PRINCIPLES OF BIOCHEMISTRY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
Biochemistry is the science dealing with the molecular basis of life. Biochemistry deals with composition, structure and function of molecules typical of living organisms and with the chemical reactions that occur in these organisms. The course will provide students with fundamental concepts regarding: the relationship between structure and function for biological macromolecules, including carrier proteins, antibodies, enzymes and nucleic acids; metabolic pathways; bioenergetics; properties of biological membranes; primary mechanisms of preservation, transmission and translation into protein of the information contained in genes.
To deal with the topics of the “Principles of Biochemistry” course, students should possess a basic knowledge of Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.
Course contents summary
Introduction to the course. The molecular basis of life. Biological molecules and macromolecules: amino acids, proteins, lipids, sugars and nucleic acids.
Cell membranes: membrane lipids, structural organization of membranes; transport of solutes across the membranes.
DNA and gene information. DNA replication and transcription. Ribosomal, transport and messenger RNA (r-RNA, t-RNA, m-RNA). The genetic code. Protein synthesis: translation.
Amino acids and the peptide bond. Structural levels of proteins. Protein folding and unfolding.
Enzymes: overview of enzyme catalysis, kinetics and regulation. Reversible (competitive and non-competitive) and irreversible enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors with pesticide activity. Hemoglobin: role played in the oxygen cycle, structural and functional properties and allosteric regulation. Antibodies: structure and function; the immune response; immunochemical methods for the detection of antigens and aptens. Collagen.
Overview of Bioenergetics. Energy extraction from nutrients.“High energy” compounds.
Aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis. Alcoholic and lactic acid fermentations. Substrate level phosphorylation. Glycogenolysis and glycogenosynthesis. The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Krebs cycle. Lipids with energy reserve function. Beta-oxydation of fatty acids. Ketogenesis. Citrate transport system. Pentose phosphate cycle. Synthesis of saturated fatty acids. Overview of amino acid metabolism. Transamination reactions. Fate of the amino group and of the carbon skeleton of amino acids. Gluconeogenesis. Respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation. Photosynthesis. The Calvin cycle. The glyoxylate cycle.
Introduzione alla Biochimica di Lehninger. Nelson e Cox, Zanichelli Editore
Oral lessons, with the use of multimedia means.
Assessment methods and criteria
The final examination will include:
- An oral test in order to verify the basic knowledge of the properties of biological molecules and macromolecules and of their role played in a variety of biochemical processes. Moreover , the ability of the students to correlate metabolic pathways with each other and to describe their importance for cell life will be ascertained.
- A written analysis of a specific subject of a scientific work, for which the student should describe the scientific importance, the research methodology adopted and the objectives achieved.