37200 - Chemistry andBiochemistry I

Course Unit Page


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

Life on land

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows:

the general characteristics of chemical reactions (stoichiometry, kinetics and spontaneity);

the properties of the chemical constituents of living matter, the structure and properties of simple and complex molecules of glucidic and lipidic nature;

the thermodynamic aspects of biochemical processes and the fundamentals of cellular bioenergetics, the structural and functional characteristics of protein macromolecules, the mechanism of action of enzymes, notions of enzyme kinetics and the rate control mechanisms of the biochemical processes;

the structure of nucleic acids and the description of the processes involved in DNA replication, transcription and translation resulting in protein synthesis.

Course contents


General concepts

  • Properties of matter
  • Units of measure
  • Thermodynamic systems
  • Classification of matter

The structure of the atom and the periodic table

  • Composition of the atom and the development of atomic theory
  • Periodic law and periodic table
  • Electronic configuration and periodic table
  • Valence electrons and octet rule
  • Trends in the periodic table

Structure and properties of ionic and covalent compounds

  • Chemical bond
  • Properties of ionic and covalent compounds
  • Writing of Lewis structures
  • Property based on electronic structure and molecular geometry

Chemical equations and stoichiometric calculations

  • Atoms and the concept of mole
  • Formula mass, molecular mass, and molar mass
  • Chemical equation
  • Stoichiometric calculations

States of aggregation of matter: gases, liquids, and solids

  • Gaseous state, ideal gas concept and gas laws
  • Liquid state, surface tension and vapor pressure
  • Solid state, properties, and types of solids


  • Properties of solutions
  • Aqueous solutions
  • Electrolytes in solution

Thermodynamics, energy, Rate, and Equilibrium

  • Exothermic and endothermic reactions
  • Enthalpy, entropy, and free energy
  • Physical balance and chemical balance
  • Le Châtelier's principle
  • Catalysts
  • Enzymes and their nomenclature
  • The active site

Acid-base and redox reactions

  • Acids and bases: theories of Arrhenius and of Brønsted and Lowry
  • Acid-base properties of water
  • Strength of an acid and a base, acid-base conjugate pairs
  • Dissociation of water and its acid-base properties
  • Weak acids and bases and ionization constants
  • Lewis acids and bases
  • Buffer solutions and Henderson-Hasselbalch equation
  • Redox reactions
  • Galvanic cells


Introduction to organic chemistry

  • Carbon chemistry
  • Saturated hydrocarbons
  • Families of organic compounds
  • Alkanes and Cycloalkanes
  • Unsaturated hydrocarbons: alkenes, alkynes and aromatic compounds
  • Alcohols, phenols, thiols and ethers
  • Aldehydes and ketones
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Amines and Amides


  • Types of carbohydrates
  • Stereoisomers and stereochemistry
  • Biologically important monosaccharides and disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides

Lipids and their functions in biological systems

  • Fatty acids
  • Eicosanoids and essential fatty acids
  • Neutral glycerides
  • Phosphoglycerides
  • Non-glyceride lipids
  • Complex lipids
  • Structure of biological membranes

Alpha-amino acids

  • Structure of amino acids
  • Stereoisomers of amino acids
  • Classes of amino acids
  • Digestion of proteins and absorption of amino acids


Peptides and proteins

  • Peptide bond and primary structure of proteins
  • Three-dimensional structure of proteins; denaturation and folding
  • Function of proteins: myoglobin and hemoglobin

Enzymes and enzymology

  • Introduction (classification) and mechanism of action
  • Enzymatic kinetics and Michaelis-Menten equation
  • Coenzymes and cofactors; mechanisms of inhibition and allosteria
  • Function of enzymatic proteins: complexes and supercomplexes of the mitochondrial respiratory chain

Nucleic acids

  • Structure of nucleic acids (forms of DNA and RNA); Mitochondrial DNA
  • Chromosomes; the genetic code and its natural variations

DNA metabolism

  • DNA replication: fundamentals and phases of the replication process, functional characteristics of DNA polymerases and other enzymes and proteins involved in DNA replication (helicases, ligases)
  • DNA recombination and repair
  • Telomeres and telomerases

RNA metabolism

  • DNA-dependent synthesis of RNA (transcription; promoters and regulators); functional characteristics of RNA polymerase; RNA maturation (splicing, insertion of 5-cap and polyA; ribozymes)
  • Regulation of gene expression
  • Reverse transcriptase and RNA virus
  • Degradation of the mRNA
  • microRNAs and other non-coding RNAs (biogenesis, mechanisms of action and cancer)
  • DNA technologies (DNA sequencing, PCR, CRISPR, and forensic DNA analysis)

Protein synthesis

  • Structure of ribosomes and peculiarities of the tRNA; aminoacyl-tRNA synthase
  • Protein synthesis: initiation, elongation, termination, folding and post-translational processing


Suggested readings:

  • Nelson D., Cox M.M.
    I PRINCIPI DI BIOCHIMICA DI LEHNINGER (VII edizione, Zanichelli) ISBN 9788808920690
  • Online documents available on the official E-learning platform of the course (virtuale.unibo.it/course [https://virtuale.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=29385&lang=en]).

Teaching methods

Frontal tuitions

Assessment methods

Written exam with both multiple choice quizzes and open answer questions to be taken at the end of the integrated course 21005-BIOCHEMISTRY

(For instructions on how to sit online exams at UNIBO, see link [https://www.unibo.it/en/university/covid-19-The-measures-adopted-by-the-University-of-Bologna/lessons-exams-internships] )

Teaching tools

E-learning platform: virtuale.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Antonello Lorenzini

See the website of Maria Luisa Genova