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CODE 111630
SEMESTER 2° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:



Biochemistry studies from a structural and functional point of view the structure and role of biological molecules, their interactions, metabolic transformations, as well as the mechanisms that coordinate their activities. In this context, enzymes, their mechanism of action, and energy conservation and utilization will be studied. How genetic information is stored, transmitted, and expressed will also be studied.


The expected learning outcomes are the critical acquisition of the course content and the ability to integrate knowledge of basic and metabolic biochemistry, to discriminate between the different metabolic processes presented during teaching and the ability to describe them with language property, in order to demonstrate that one has acquired an overall picture of the subject, which does not stop at the notion but allows the student a coordinated view of biochemical pathways and their interactions in intermediate and regulatory metabolism.


The course is developed through lectures in the classroom. The lectures and examinations may be conducted remotely in telematic mode should the need arise. The lectures are given with the support of computerized material and, as far as possible, organized in a participative manner. Supporting and in-depth materials (ppt presentations of the Figures in the Recommended Texts, articles, links to sites of interest, bibliography, etc.) will be rendered available on Aulaweb.


Programme of Biochemistry (7-CFU)

Introductory notes. Outline of the origin of the chemical elements most represented in biomolecules. Water, structure and properties. Recalls on chemical bonds and functional groups.

The molecular logic of life: fundamental characteristics of biomolecules (amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates). Covalent bonds; weak bonds: role of weak interactions in macromolecules. Notes on the thermodynamics of biological systems.

Amino acids and proteins Structure, chemical properties of the 20 standard amino acids and their classification. Essential and non-essential amino acids. Primary, secondary and tertiary structure of proteins. Examples. Quaternary structure of proteins. Haemoglobin and myoglobin: saturation curves, 2-3 DPG as effector. Vitamins as coenzymes. Enzyme catalysis and kinetic parameters. Factors and laws regulating it. Allosteric modulation, covalent regulation and enzyme inhibition. Serine proteases: chymotrypsin and trypsin and their mechanism of action.

Metabolism and bioenergetics. Anabolism and catabolism, synthesis and demolition of high-energy bonds. Structure, resonance forms and the ATP cycle.


Glucose metabolism Structure and chemical properties of monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Main glucose utilization pathways. Enzymatic steps, regulation of glycolysis, and energy balance. Mechanism of action of Aldolase and Glyceraldehyde 3-P DH. Lactic and alcoholic fermentation. Ethanol metabolism. Shunt of hexose monophosphate by glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and hexose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PD) and their different roles, G6PD and H6PD compared. Inter-conversion of phosphorylated sugars. Synthesis and breakdown of glycogen and hormonal regulation of its metabolism (adrenalin, glucagon, and insulin). Fructose and galactose metabolism. Gluconeogenesis: specific enzymatic steps and coordinated regulation with glycolysis (also by fructose 2,6-P2). The oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvic acid: coenzymes and enzymes involved. The citric acid cycle.  Organization and localization in the mitochondrion of electron transport protein complexes and gates. Q-cycle. Oxidative phosphorylation. ATP synthesis and structure of F1Fo-ATP synthase.


Lipid metabolism Structure of the main lipid classes. Fatty acid metabolism. Oxidative demolition -beta-oxidation- of the main classes of fatty acids (even and odd, saturated and unsaturated) and energy yield. Synthesis of ketone bodies and relevance in fasting and diabetes. Arachidonic acid metabolism: prostaglandin-H2 synthase (COX) and formation of prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. EPA and DHA and mention of the synthesis of resolvins and maresins. Synthesis of fatty acids by the fatty acid synthase complex. Elongation and desaturation reactions. Synthesis and demolition of triacylglycerols, sphingolipids, phospholipids, and cerebrosides. Cholesterol synthesis and hints at derivatives (bile acids and salts, hormones); HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.


Nitrogen metabolism.  Catabolism of amino acids: transamination, oxidative deamination, and ammonia organization in the urea cycle. CAP synthase I and II. Catabolism of threonine, phenylalanine (phenylalanine hydroxylase and its deficiency), and glycine. Catabolism of purine nucleotides in ura (mention of gout).  Amino acid precursors of important biological compounds: ketogenic and gluconeogenetic. Synthesis pathways of the main neurotransmitters derived from amino acids (Dopamine, Noradrenaline, Adrenaline, GABA, Histamine); Tetrahydrobiopterin: structure. Synthesis of NO. Structure, synthesis, and degradation of the heme group and its conjugation with Glucuronate; mention of Phases I and II of drug metabolism. Synthesis and structure of glutathione and its metabolism (GCLC, GSS, GGPX, and GR). Synthesis of S-adenosyl methionine and its metabolism. Adenosine and its metabolism: purinergic signaling. Folic acid as coenzyme: structure and folate cycle. mention of antimetabolites: methotrexate. Synthesis of pyrimidine nucleotides; synthesis of purine nucleotides. Synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides: ribonucleotide reductase and its catalytic mechanism. Synthesis of thymine.


Biological information Azide bases: structure. Structure of nucleic acids. Mechanism of DNA duplication in prokaryotes. Structure and function of RNAs, RNA polymerase. Transcription in prokaryotes, mention of eukaryotes. RNA maturation in eukaryotes. Genetic code. Translation in prokaryotes. Ribosome structure and protein synthesis in prokaryotes. Mention of the DNA repair mechanisms (removal of Uracyl and cyclobutane dimers) and telomeres. Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes: the Lac operon.


Photosynthesis: Chlorophylls and accessory pigments, reaction center, light phase and dark reactions, the PSI and PSII photosystems; the water splitting center, the enzyme Ribulose diphosphate carboxylase oxidase (RuBisCO), the Calvin cycle.


Recommended texts for the module: 'Biochemistry':

-          David L Nelson, Michael M Cox I Principi di Biochimica di Lehninger, 2022 Zanichelli ed. EAN:  9788808920690


-          Donald Voet, Judith G Voet, Charlotte W Pratt  Fondamenti di Biochimica, quarta edizione  Zanichelli ed. EAN:  9788808420961.



Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



The examination consists of an oral interview and covers the program's topics. The final assessment will consider the test(s), which will be marked in thirtieths.


The lecturer will articulate specific questions aimed at testing preparation on the subject, the ability to discuss knowledge using appropriate scientific vocabulary, link different but interconnected topics, and expository effectiveness. The final grade considers all these contributions as indicators of the achievement of the learning outcomes of the course.


The teaching material can be downloaded on the AulaWeb platform of the current academic year, without any access key.



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