Learning outcomes of the course unit
The first section of the course aims to knowledge and understanding of the properties of elementary substances, of inorganic and organic compounds, especially of the macromolecules of biological interest. In the two sections of Biochemistry the objective becomes the knowledge of structural, functional and relational features of biomolecules.
These skills will be functional for understanding the fundamentals of enzymology and the integration of metabolic processes.
Course contents summary
The basic principles of Chemistry are introduced in the first part of the course, the atomic theory and chemical bonding up to the presentation of chemical reactions and kinetics. The section finishes with the description of the molecules of biological systems: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, and ATP as an energy transporter.
In the second part main subject is General Biochemistry, with a particular emphasis on enzyme catalysis, coenzymes, bioenergetics and biological oxidations.
Finally, the last section deals with the reactions of Metabolic Biochemistry, evaluating energy balances, allosteric and hormonal regulations.
GENERAL AND ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, PROPEDEUTIC BIOCHEMISTRY
Chemistry foundations: Physical and chemical transformations. Mixtures, elements and compounds. Atomic structure: energy levels, valence electrons and Lewis structure.
Chemical Bonding: Pure and polar covalent bond. Electronegativity. Ionic bond. Form and polarity of the molecules of water, ammonia and methane. Intermolecular forces, hydrogen bond.
Solutions: Definitions of solvent, solute and solubility. Water as a polar solvent. Osmotic pressure.
Foundations of Organic Chemistry: main functional groups.
Molecules of biological systems: Biological function of water molecule.
Carbohydrates: monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and omopolysaccharides. Lipids: fatty acids, lipids, complex lipids and steroids. Proteins: aminoacids and peptide bond. Nucleic Acids: nucleotides and phosphodiesteric bond. DNA and RNA structures.
Bioenergetics and metabolism
Bioenergetics and thermodynamics. Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP. Biological oxidation-reduction reactions.
Electron-transfer reactions in mitochondria. ATP synthesis. Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation.
The three-dimensional structure of proteins Overview of protein structure. Protein secondary structure. Protein tertiary and quaternary structures.
Reversible binding of a protein to a ligand: Oxygen-Binding proteins.
An introduction to enzymes. How enzymes work. Co-enzymes and vitamins. Enzyme kinetics. Regulatory enzymes.
Hormonal regulation and integration of metabolism
Tissue-specific metabolism. Hormonal Regulation of metabolism.
Glycolysis, Gluconeogenesis, and the Pentose Phosphate Pathway
Glycolysis. Feeder pathways for glycolysis. Fates of pyruvate under anaerobic conditions: fermentation. Gluconeogenesis and its regulation. Pentose phosphate pathway of glucose oxidation. Coordinated regulation of Glycolysis and Gluconeogenesis.
The Metabolism of Glycogen
Reactions and coordinated Regulation of Glycogen Synthesis and Breakdown.
The Citric Acid Cycle
Production of Acetyl-CoA. Reactions of the Citric Acid Cycle and regulation.
Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats. Oxidation of fatty acids. Ketone bodies. Biosynthesis of fatty acids. Reactions and regulation.
Amino Acid Oxidation and the Production of Urea.
Metabolic Fates of Amino Groups. Nitrogen Excretion and the Urea Cycle.
Pathways of Amino Acid Degradation.
La chimica in moduli (A-H),
di Valitutti, Tifi, Gentile
I principi di Biochimica di Lehninger
Di Nelson, Cox
Introduzione alla biochimica di Lehninger
di David L. Nelson, Michael M. Cox
Supplementary material, assembled by the teacher, can be found on the course website.
Frontal lessons will be aided by presentations and videos, valuing the molecular approach and the overview of metabolism; interactive web sites will be used when possible.
Assessment methods and criteria
The first written test will be during biochemistry classes; it will focus on general chemistry foundations, organic chemistry and biochemistry propaedeutics, in order to verify structure and properties of the molecules presented in the first section of the course. The positive result is a prior condition for the oral test in Biochemistry, which produces the final grade: knowledge of General Biochemistry principles will be tested and the capability to analyze the metabolic response of the body during physical activity, in the fed state and fasting, will improve the grade.