Learning outcomes of the course unit
- Knowing and understanding the chemical and structural properties of the major molecules of biological interest;
- knowing the fundamentals of cellular energy metabolism;
- knowing the fundamentals of enzymatic catalysis, its regulation and major metabolic pathways.
Course contents summary
After a brief introduction to the basic principles of Organic Chemistry, the main molecules of biological systems will be presented: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, and ATP as energy transporter.
In the second section main subject will be General and Metabolic Biochemistry with particular emphasis on bioenergetics, red-ox biological reactions, and cell metabolism.
A) INTRODUCTION: fundamentals of organic chemistry.
B) STRUCTURAL BIOCHEMISTRY
Carbohydrates. Structure and classification of monosaccharides. The glycosidic bond, disaccharides. Homopolysaccharides: starch and glycogen. Amino acids: structural properties and classification. Peptides and proteins: the peptide bond and its characteristics. Protein structure: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure. Conformation and function of proteins. Lipids: classification, structure and function of fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol. Biological membranes: the lipid bilayer and membrane proteins. Nucleotides and nucleic acids.
C) GENERAL AND METABOLIC BIOCHEMISTRY
Hemoglobin: structure and function. Molecular mechanism of O2 transport. Factors that change the affinity for O2.
Enzymatic catalysis. Active site, specificity. Nature of enzymes and their classification.
Free energy and spontaneity of reactions. The thermodynamics of biological reactions, ATP as an energy carrier.
Cellular metabolism. Oxidation and degradation reactions, biosynthesis reactions.
Mitochondrial bioenergetics. Coenzymes and biological oxidation-reductions. The respiratory chain: components and functions. Mechanism of oxidative phosphorylation.
The metabolism of carbohydrates. Glycolysis, energy balance and regulation. The fate of pyruvate in aerobic and anaerobic conditions. The Krebs cycle. Gluconeogenesis. Glycogen metabolism. Hormonal control of glucose metabolism by adrenaline, glucagon and insulin. Lipid and protein metabolism in brief.
Frontal lessons will be aided by presentations, promoting the molecular approach and the overview of metabolism. Learning material will be loaded weekly on Elly platform.
Assessment methods and criteria
The oral exam will deal with Structural and General Biochemistry; knowledge of enzymatic catalysis, bioenergetics and of the major metabolic pathways will also contribute to the evaluation.
The final grade will be averaged with those of the other subjects of the integrated course.