Biochemistry and fundamentals of human biochemistry

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide the knowledge needed for the understanding of biochemical processes underlying cell function and body.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding of a) structure and functions of macromolecules, mainly referring to proteins; b) composition organization and dynamics of biological membranes, mainly referring to membrane transport e signal transduction mechanisms; c) cell metabolism, regulation and integration of metabolic pathways in human cells. At the end of the course, the student will acquire the capacity to understand the relationship between tissue metabolism and function; the ability to recognize and predict metabolic adaptation to altered environmental conditions (including fuel availability) also in view of following courses, such as general pathology and pharmacology. The acquisition of these knowledges and skills will be certified by passing the exam
Course syllabus and organization

Unique edition

Lesson period
Course syllabus
The foundations of biochemistry
Water and weak interactions in aqueous systems.
Proteins: Structure and function
Structural elements and three-dimensional protein organization
Fibrous proteins: structural proteins Collagen, keratin.
Globular proteins.
Kinetic and thermodynamic of protein folding, assisted folding: disulfide isomerase, chaperonines; protein misfolding
Enzymes: how enzymes work; co-enzymes and water-soluble vitamins; factors affecting enzymatic activity; Enzymatic kinetics; regulation of enzymatic activity.
Biological membranes, composition, organization and membrane dynamics.
Transport of molecules and ions across Membranes.
Biosignaling: General Features of Signal Transduction; Membrane receptors; G Protein-Coupled Receptors and Second Messengers; Receptors with enzymatic activity (mainly focusing on Receptor Tyrosine Kinases), protein domains, and protein complexes in signal transduction.
Introduction to Metabolism.
Metabolism organization: catabolism and anabolism.
Bioenergetics and Thermodynamics; Chemical Logic and Common Biochemical Reactions.
Compounds with high energy content; Transfer of phosphoryl groups and ATP.
Oxygen-binding proteins and oxygen transport and storage: myoglobin and haemoglobin.
Oxidative phosphorylation:
Electron-Transfer Reactions in Mitochondria; ATP Synthesis, ATP-ADP traslocase; Regulation of Oxidative Phosphorylation; Mitochondria in Thermogenesis.
Mono- and disaccharides; polysaccharides.
Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
Glycolysis; fate of piruvate and NDAH in anaerobic and aerobic conditions.
Regulation of glycolysis.
Acetyl-CoA the common intermediate of oxidative processes.
The citric acid cycle and its regulation.
Gluconeogenesis; Coordinated Regulation of Glycolysis and Gluconeogenesis
Synthesis and degradation of glycogen.
Regulation of glycogenolysis and glycogen synthesis.
Pentose Phosphate Pathway of glucose oxidation.
Interconversion of monosaccharides and their regulation.
proteoglycans, glycolipid glycoproteins.
The oligosaccharide chains in cell recognition and communication.
Simple and complex lipids.
Digestion and absorption of lipids.
Mobilization and transport of lipids: lipoproteins.
Origin of fatty acids: lipoprotein lipase activity on chylomicron and VLDL; lipolysis in adipocytes.
Fatty acid activation and transport into mitochondria, oxidation of fatty acids and their regulation.
Ketone bodies.
Biosynthesis of fatty acids and its regulation.
Fatty acid elongation and desaturation; essential fatty acids and arachidonic biosynthesis.
Cholesterol metabolism and its regulation.
Cholesterol Derivatives: biliary acids, steroid hormones
Triacylglycerols, glycerol-phospholipids and sphingolipids: metabolism and function.
Lipids as signaling molecules: eicosanoids, sphingolipid mediators.
Proteins and Nitrogen Compounds. *
Digestion of proteins and amino acid absorption.
Biological value of proteins; essential amino acids.
Nitrogen balance.
Turnover and intracellular protein degradation.
Metabolic fate of amino groups; transamination and glutamate dehydrogenase.;
Nitrogen Excretion and the Urea Cycle.
Pathways of Amino Acid Degradation and biosynthesis
Gluco- and ketogenic amino acids.
Molecules derived from amino acids:
Biogenic amines, creatine, carnitine, glutathione, nitric oxide.
Synthesis and degradation of eme group.
Synthesis and degradation of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides; uric acid.

* The biosynthesis of nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) and proteins together with the regulation of gene expression will be treated in the course of Molecular Biology

Growth factors and steroid hormones; regulation of transcription; PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.

Energy requirements, macronutrients, water- and lipo-soluble vitamins, trace elements.
Hormone structure and function.
Hormonal regulation of energy metabolism.
Homeostasis; metabolic integrations between different tissues; Fast-feeding cycle, metabolic adaptation in prolonged fasting/stress conditions and during exercise.
Kidney metabolism.
Cellular and systemic calcium homeostasis.
Iron homeostasis and metabolism.
Sensory Transduction in Vision, Olfaction, and Gustation.
Eye metabolism.
The reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress.
Oxidative damage to cells; Antioxidant defence system.
Prerequisites for admission
Students must have fulfilled all the prerequisite requirements indicated in the study plan: General and inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry.
Teaching methods
Teachers will mainly give frontal lectures. In the second part of the course, group works will be carried out on specific subjects of the programme which require the knowledge of topics dealt with in the first part of the teaching. For this activity the students will be organized in small groups to develop the topic and lead the class discussion on the subject.
Teaching Resources
Reference textbooks
I Principi di Biochimica di Lehninger VII edizione, Nelson D.L, Cox M.M., Zanichelli Editore
Fondamenti di Biochimica IV edizione, Voet J.G. Voet D. Pratt C.W., Zanichelli Editore.
For consultation
Biochimica Medica V edizione, Siliprandi N. Tettamanti G., Piccin Editore.
Biochimica con aspetti clinici, Thomas Devlin, V ed Edises
Assessment methods and Criteria
The assessment of whether the expected learning outcomes have been achieved is based on a one-hour written test comprising 30 multiple-choice questions and an oral exam. The written test is aimed at assessing the knowledge acquired in relation to the topics covered in the course; the oral test, in addition to the assessment of knowledge, is mainly aimed at ascertaining the ability to organize and integrate the knowledge acquired, the exposition skills and the proper use of specialist language.
Marks are expressed in thirtieths and will be composed of the weighted average of the marks obtained in the two tests.
Only students who have obtained 18/30 in the written test will be admitted to the oral test. The results of the written test are communicated directly to the student during the examination.
An intermediate test (optional) at 2/3 of the course is provided for. The mark of the intermediate test contributes to the final grade instead of the written test. The results of the intermediate test are communicated anonymously through the Ariel platform.
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 11
Lessons: 88 hours