Protein engineering and molecular enzymology

A.Y. 2017/2018
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Protein engineering is a novel dynamic field, which leads to production of modified proteins used to elucidate biological processes, structure-function relations of proteins, for the development of bioactive compounds and applications of proteins in all domains of biotechnologies.
This class mainly aims to provide (i) the theoretical bases for the understanding and design of protein engineering approaches exploiting structural and functional information on the target proteins and (ii) the tools to carry out protein engineering and analyzing engineered proteins. The course is ideally linked to those dealing with metabolic engineering, structural biology, bioinformatics, nanotechnologies and molecular parasitology
Expected learning outcomes
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The lectures will first review information on: (i) protein structure, folding and structure-function relations, (ii) the principles of enzyme catalysis and kinetic tools to study enzyme catalytic properties; (iii) spectroscopic techniques for the study of proteins and their function; (iv) techniques and strategies for the overexpression, purification and modification of molecular targets, especially proteins and enzymes.
Lectures will then be largely based on the discussion of articles from specialized journals, and will cover:
- protein engineering goals and strategies
- design, expression, selection, isolation and characterization of protein variants.
Examples of successful protein engineering experiments will be discussed.

Reference Material
· Voet, D. & Voet, J.G Biochemistry , 4th Edition, J. Wiley & Sons
· Fersht, A. Structure and mechanism in protein science (Freeman)
· Frey, P.A. & Hegeman, A.D. Enzymatic Reaction Mechanisms, Oxford University Press (2007)
· Petsko, G.A. & Ringe, D. Protein structure and function, New Science Press, 2004
Articles on which classes will be based.

Examination procedures
The evaluation of the students performance will be based on (i) the presentation and discussion of a research article that will be selected from a list suggested by the teacher. For this "journal club" activity students will work in small groups; (ii) a written examination with open-answer questions spanning all topics covered in the course; (iii) an oral exam that will be mainly focused on the discussion of the written paper. The evaluation of the Journal club activity will account for up to 15% of the score (max 5 points)

Recommended Prerequisites
A revision of the topics covered by the basic biochemistry and molecular biology classes included in the bachelor curriculum prior to attending the course is highly recommended.

Assessment methods
Teaching Mode: Classroom lectures supported by projected material with common discussions on experimental design, data analysis and specific case studies.
Attendance: highly recommended.

Language of instruction

Program information
Copies of the slides projected in the classroom, as well as other materials, will be made available through the course website on the ARIEL platform of the University of Milano ( By no means this material replaces the lectures or reference textbook. The material is made available only to registered students of the Degree Course in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and should not be distributed to others.

BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Thursday, 10:30-12:30
Dept. of Biosciences, C tower, 5th floor
Monday, 1 pm -2 pm
Protein Biochemistry Unit, DSBB, Via Celoria 26, 5C