65951 - Biochemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The learning goal of this course is to give students the knowledge necessary to understand the molecular mechanism that underlie the life and the trasformations of organic compounds. At the end of the course the student should be able to understand the structural characteristics of biological molecules (proteins, lipids and carbohydrate) and enzyme functionality

Course contents

Module 1, CFU 3 , Dott.Christian Bergamini


- The Molecules of Life Properties of Biomolecules Reflect Their Fitness to the Living Condition

Water, pH and ionic equilibrium:

  • Water structure,
  • Water properties as solvent, interactions between water and apolar molecules.

    Amphipatic molecules.
  • Definition of pH, definition of acids and bases, acid dissociation constant, titrations of acids and bases, concept of buffer.

Basic Thermodynamic Concepts

  • The Physical Significance of Thermodynamic Properties (▲H, ▲S and ▲Gversus ▲G°)
  • The Importance of Coupled Processes in Living Things
  • The High-Energy Biomolecules.

Amino Acids:

  • Building Blocks of Proteins
  • Amino Acid structure
  • The Peptide Bond.
  • Architecture of Protein Molecules. Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins.
  • Biological Functions of Proteins:Haemoglobin and oxygen transport.

Enzymes as the Agents of Metabolic Function.

  • Enzymes: Catalytic Power, Specificity, and Regulation. Coenzymes, cofactors and prosthetic groups.
  • Enzyme specificity and regulation.
  • Kinetics of Enzyme-Catalyzed Reactions: Michaelis-Menten model. Enzyme inhibition.
  • Allosteric Enzymes.
  • Regulation of Enzyme Activity: allosteric regulation, covalent modification.
  • The roles of enzymes in food processing.

Structure and function of biological membranes

Module 2, 3 CFU, Prof.ssa Alessandra Bordoni


  • Catabolism (Degradative Pathways)
  • Anabolism (Biosynthetic Pathways).
  • Regulation and compartmentalization of metabolic pathways within cells.

Carbohydrate metabolism

  • Glycolysis
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Glycogen Metabolism
  • The TCA Cycle

Fatty acid metabolism:

  • b-Oxidation of Fatty Acids.
  • ATP synthesized by fatty acid oxidation.
  • Ketone Bodies: a Significant Source of Fuel and Energy for Certain Tissues.
  • Fatty Acid Biosynthesis: Formation of Malonyl-CoA. Fatty Acid Synthesis in Eukaryotes Occurs on a Multienzyme Complex called fatty acid synthase.

Nitrogen metabolism:

  • General scheme for amino acid catabolism,
  • amino acid transamination and oxidative deamination.
  • Nitrogen Excretion: urea cycle.
  • Protein synthesis


Electron Transport and Oxidative Phosphorylation:


  • Organization of mitochondrial respiratory chain.
  • Peter Mitchell's Chemiosmotic Hypothesis to explain energy coupling that drives mitochondrial ATP synthesis.

Metabolic integration and unidirectionality of metabolic pathway.

Nucleic acids:

  • structure and function of DNA and RNA.
  • Overview on DNA duplication, transcription and translation.


David L. Nelson, Michael M. Cox " I PRINCIPI DI BIOCHIMICA DI LEHNINGER"Zanichelli (recommended text)


Campbell-Farrell "BIOCHIMICA" Edises

Pamela Champe, Richard Harvey, Denise R. Ferrier “LE BASI DELLA BIOCHIMICA” Zanichelli

Garret e Grisham " Biochimica" edizione V, Piccinin

Teaching methods

Lectures and computer simulation on: protein structure, enzyme function, oxidative phosphorylation, DNA duplication, transcription, translation an protein synthesis.

Assessment methods

Success of learning outcomes will be assessed at the end of the course by an oral examination that will have aims to assess the achievement of the following objectives:
- Know the structure and function of the main biological macromolecules and the theoretical basis of enzymology.
- Know the cellular bioenergetics, the main metabolic pathways and mechanisms underlying their regulation.
- Know the basic molecular mechanisms of living systems, and the molecular logic of their adjustment.

The exam (upon registration on almaesami website) consists of a written test lasting two hours aimed at assessing the theoretical knowledge by the student on the structure and function of biological macromolecules, metabolism and its regulation. The exam consists of a series of multiple choice questions and open questions. The final definition of the student preparation and capabilities is given in a score as a fraction of thirty (from 18/30 to 30/30 cum laude).

Teaching tools

Videoprojector, PC, light board

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Bordoni

See the website of Christian Bergamini