Learning outcomes of the course unit
Biochemistry is the science that studies of the molecular bases of life. It is therefore the science that deals with composition, structure and function of molecules typical of living organisms and with the variety of reactions that take place in such organisms. In the first part of the course the knowledge imparted concerns the structure-function relationship of biomolecules, such as proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, with particular reference to the multiple functions of proteins, for which the fundamental role in cellular processes will be highlighted. The student will then be introduced to the knowledge of the basic metabolic pathways, both degradative and synthetic, regarding carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids, with particular reference to the mechanisms of the main metabolic reactions, to the regulatory mechanisms involved and to the extraction of energy from nutrients.
Basic courses of Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.
Course contents summary
Part I - Biomolecules
Amino acids and their classification. Peptide bond. Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins. Speediness and spontaneity of protein folding. Functional and structural properties of model proteins. Antibodies and their interaction with antigens. Hemoglobin, transport of oxygen and allosteric regulation. Catalytic strategies of enzymes. An exemplary enzyme: chymotrypsin. Enzyme kinetics (Michaelis-Menten model). Reversible and irreversible inhibition of enzyme activity.
Lipids with energy reserve function: the triacylglycerols. Lipids as structural components of biological membranes: glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids and cholesterol. Notes on active and passive transport of solutes across biological membranes.
Main carbohydrates with nutritional role.
DNA as genetic information depository. Replication and transcription of DNA. Diversification of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA) and messenger RNA (mRNA). The genetic code. Translation of the information contained in nucleic acids in the amino acid sequences of proteins.
Part II - Metabolism
Bioenergetics. 'High-energy' compounds: ATP and other key compounds that mediate the flow of energy from nutrients to the cells. Delta G °, Delta G °'and real Delta G of reactions in biological systems. Metabolic exoergonic and endoergonic sequences.
Notes on the specificity of the enzymatic degradation of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in the digestive tract.
Carbohydrate metabolism. Glycolysis. The phosphorylation at the substrate level. Alcoholic and lactic fermentations. Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Citric acid cycle, and related reactions. Pentose cycle. Gluconeogenesis. Degradation and synthesis of glycogen.
Lipid metabolism. Beta-oxidation of fatty acid. Ketogenesis and the role of ketone bodies. The citrate transport system. Fatty acid synthesis.
Metabolism of amino acids. Transamination reactions. Urea cycle. Realtionships with cabohydrate and lipid metabolism.
Electron transport, respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation.
David L Nelson, Michael M Cox
Introduzione alla biochimica di Lehninger
(Quinta edizione) - Zanichelli
David L Nelson, Michael M Cox
I principi di biochimica di Lehninger
(Sesta edizione) - Zanichelli
Oral lectures with the use of audio-visual means.
Assessment methods and criteria
The acquired knowledge and ability to use it in practice will be verified through a pre-written exam concerning the first part of the course (Biomolecules), which will be followed, upon successful completion of the written test, by an oral examination concerning the second part of the course (Metabolism ). The acquired knowledge and the ability to use it in practice will be verified through an oral examination. In these trials the ability of students to present clearly and appropriately ideas and analysis will also be evaluated.