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CODE 111561
ACADEMIC YEAR 2024/2025
CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR BIO/10
LANGUAGE Italian
TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
SEMESTER 2° Semester
PREREQUISITES
Propedeuticità in ingresso
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OVERVIEW

Biochemistry is the study of the chemistry of life and is essentially concerned with analyzing the chemical and three-dimensional structure of biological molecules, their interactions, the pathways the cell uses to synthesize and degrade them, and the mechanisms that organize and coordinate them. Additionally, it deals with defining the processes of energy conservation and utilization, as well as the conservation, transmission, and expression of genetic information.

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The teaching of Biochemistry aims to provide the knowledge for understand the mechanisms that are the basis of life by describing the structure and function of biomolecules. The principles of bioenergetics that rule the biochemical transformations will allow to clarify the metabolic changes that undergo biomolecules and their interactions both at the molecular and cellular level. Finally, we will address the biochemical aspects related to genetic information and how it is translated into amino acid sequences. The teaching of applied biochemistry provides general approaches to biochemical testing.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

The study of Biochemistry aims to explore the structure and function of the cell for a better understanding of the vital processes that occur in living organisms, with particular attention to the interrelationships of catabolic and anabolic processes and their regulatory mechanisms. Understanding biochemical processes is an essential requirement for any professional profile in the field of biological sciences. During the course, the structure, function, and metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins will be examined in detail, with particular emphasis on enzymatic catalysis, its regulation, and control. The course will introduce concepts related to Molecular Biology, focusing on DNA replication, RNA transcription, and protein synthesis through translation. The concluding part of the course will be dedicated to Applied Biochemistry, delving into the main techniques used in a biochemical laboratory, with particular attention to those used in protein purification processes. 

The topics covered in the course include the chemistry of biological macromolecules with references to physical chemistry, thermodynamics, and bioenergetics. 

During the course, students are expected to achieve the following objectives:
- Understand the relationship between the structure and function of biomolecules, especially proteins.
- Understand the relationship between the structure and function of enzymes, with particular attention to enzymatic catalysis.
- Understand the relationship between the structure and function of carbohydrates and lipids.
- Know the catabolic pathways used to obtain energy from the degradation of biomolecules.
- Know the anabolic pathways involving carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides, which are necessary for cellular structure and function.
- Understand the basics of molecular biology: DNA as genetic material, the mechanisms of replication, transcription, translation, and regulation.
- Theoretically understand the fundamental principles of the main techniques used in a biochemical laboratory, with particular attention to protein purification techniques.

PREREQUISITES

Knowledge derived from Animal and Plant Biology and Organic Chemistry.

TEACHING METHODS

Lectures and discretionary laboratory

Any Student with documented Specific Learning Disorders (SLD), or with any special needs, shall reach out to the Lecturer(s) and to the dedicated SLD Representative in the Department ( Prof. Luca Raiteri, Luca.Raiteri@unige.it ) before class begins, in order to liaise and arrange the specific learning methods and ensure proper achievement of the learning aims and outcomes. VERY IMPORTANT: any request for compensatory tools and adaptations in the exam MUST be done within 10 working days before the date of the exam according to the instructions that can be found at https://unige.it/disabilita-dsa/comunicazioni

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Amino Acids and Proteins: Classification and Chemical Properties of Amino Acids. Protein Structure: Primary, secondary, and tertiary structures with examples. Quaternary Structure: Hemoglobin and myoglobin: structure and function. Pathological hemoglobins.

Catalysis and Enzyme Kinetics: Factors and laws governing it. Enzyme inhibition, allosterism, and regulation of enzyme activity.

Metabolism and Associated Energy Issues: Anabolism and Catabolism: Synthesis and breakdown of high-energy bonds.

Carbohydrate Metabolism: Structure of Key Mono-, Di-, and Polysaccharides. Main Glucose Utilization Pathways. Glycolysis: Enzymatic steps, coenzymes and vitamins involved, energy balance, and regulation. Hexose Monophosphate Shunt: Biological importance. Reduced Glutathione: Structure and functions. Interconversion of Phosphorylated Sugars. Glycogen Synthesis and Breakdown: Hormonal regulation (adrenaline, glucagon, and insulin). Metabolism of Fructose, Mannose, and Galactose. Gluconeogenesis: Specific enzymatic steps and regulation. Oxidative Decarboxylation of Pyruvic Acid: Involved coenzymes and enzymes. Citric Acid Cycle: Enzymatic steps, energy balance, and regulation.

Lipid Metabolism: Fatty Acid Metabolism. Oxidative Breakdown of Main Fatty Acid Classes (even and odd, saturated and unsaturated): Enzymatic steps and energy yield. Formation of Ketone Bodies: In normal and pathological conditions. Fatty Acid Synthesis: Fatty acid synthase complex, elongation, and desaturation processes. Synthesis and Breakdown of Triacylglycerols, Phospholipids, Sphingolipids. Arachidonic Acid Metabolism. Cholesterol: Structure, function, enzymatic steps of synthesis, and regulation. Synthesis of Cholesterol and Isoprenoid Derivatives.

Bioenergetics: Oxidative Phosphorylation: Organization and mitochondrial localization of electron transport protein complexes, ATP synthesis, and proton pumps. Photosynthesis: Light and dark phases. Photorespiration.

Nitrogen Metabolism: Amino Acid Metabolism: Transamination and oxidative deamination. Enzymatic Steps of the Urea Cycle. Oxidative Breakdown of Amino Acid Carbon Skeletons. Biosynthetic Processes Related to Amino Acids. De Novo Synthesis, Salvage Pathways, and Breakdown of Purine and Pyrimidine Nucleotides.

Biological Information: Structure of Nucleic Acids. DNA Replication. Transcription. RNA Maturation. Genetic Code. Protein Synthesis. Post-Translational Modifications, Transport, and Breakdown of Proteins. Regulation of Gene Expression in Prokaryotes: Lac operon.

Applied Biochemistry: General Approach to Biochemical Research. Working in the Laboratory: Good laboratory practices, basic instrumentation, solutions. Protein Purification: Separation techniques (cell disruption methods, centrifugation techniques, fractional precipitation, chromatographic techniques), analysis techniques (electrophoresis, spectrophotometric and radioisotopic assays, immunochemical techniques, flow cytometry techniques). Determination of Primary Structure and Molecular Weight of Proteins: Edman degradation and mass spectrometry techniques.

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Nelson D.L e Cox M.M., I Principi di Biochimica di  Lehninger, Zanichelli ed.
  • Berg J., Tymoczko J.L. e Stryer L., Biochimica, Zanichelli ed.
  • Garret R.H. e Grisham C.M., Biochimica con aspetti molecolari della Biologia cellulare, Zanichelli ed.
  • Voet D., Voet J.G. e Pratt C.W., Fondamenti di Biochimica, Zanichelli ed.
  • Garret R.H. e Grisham C.M., Biochimica, Piccin ed.
  • Stoppini M., Bellotti V., Biochimica Applicata, EdiSES Ed.
  • Bonaccorsi Di Patti M.C., Contestabile R., Di Salvo M.L., Metodologie Biochimiche, Zanichelli Ed.
  • Maccarrone M, Metodologie Biochimiche e Biomolecolari, Zanichelli Ed.

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

LESSONS

LESSONS START

II semester: at the end of February or early March

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy

EXAMS

EXAM DESCRIPTION

Oral examination

ASSESSMENT METHODS

The student must demonstrate an understanding of the topics covered in the syllabus and during the lectures, as well as the ability to make independent judgments. Adequate knowledge of the structure and function of different classes of biomolecules and various metabolic pathways must be acquired, not only in their structure but also in their interdependence and regulation. The expression of concepts using appropriate biochemical language and scientific terminology will also be evaluated.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Attendance at the lectures is recommended.