Biological chemistry

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to provide students with all the knowledge needed to master the basics of biological chemistry, particularly with regard to the understanding and study of the major biological processes in living organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will acquire the ability to relate the fundamental features of living systems and of the transformations that occur in them to the underlying chemical and physical principles governing the involved chemical species; to handle quantitatively protein-ligand interactions and enzyme kinetics; to interpret biological phenomena based on the principles of thermodynamics. They will be familiar with the biologically relevant organic compounds such as carbohydrates, aminoacids and peptides.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Teaching methods
The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed synchronously based on the first-semester timetable. Besides, the lessons will be recorded and made available to students on the same platform and/or on the teaching ARIEL platform.

Program and reference material
The program and the reference material will not change.

Learning verification procedures and assessment criteria
The exam will take place orally using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where regulation allows, in the presence, in a writing form.

The exam, in particular, will be aimed at:
- ensure the achievement of objectives in terms of knowledge and understanding;
- ascertain the ability to apply knowledge and understanding and verify the autonomy of judgment through the discussion of examples analyzed during the lessons
- ascertain the mastery of the specific language that pertains to the field of biological chemistry and the ability to present the topics in a clear and orderly way.

If the regulations concerning social distancing permit, about halfway, and at the end of the course there will be partial written evaluation activities in presence on the various parts of the course program. Alternatively, an oral evaluation will be carried out using the Microsoft Teams platform. The participation of students in these partial assessment activities will be voluntary and will be considered as a substitute for the final exam only if they are successful.
Course syllabus
Structure, chemical properties and reactivity of carbohydrates (mono-, di- and polysaccharides).
Nucleic acids: bases, nucleosides, nucleotides, base-pairing, DNA structure. Lipids.
Structure, chemical properties and reactivity of amino acids. Chemical synthesis of peptides (in solution and in solid phase, protective groups). Primary structure of peptides (chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis).
Protein structure and folding.
Enzymes: basis concepts and kinetics, cofactors and coenzymes, the Michaelis-Menten equation, regulation of the enzymatic activity.
Enzymatic inhibition: reversible (competitive, incompetitive and non-competitive) and irreversible inhibitors.
Serine proteases: general properties, three dimensional structure, activation and catalytic mechanism.
Bio-energetics: high-energy compounds. ATP and other phosphorylated compounds. Redox reactions. Electron carriers: NAD+ and FAD.
Metabolism: basic concepts and regulation, glycolysis, diverse fates of pyruvate, citric acid cycle, electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of General and Inorganic Chemistry, and of Organic Chemistry.
Teaching methods
Teaching Mode: Classroom lectures, including theory, exercises, and application examples, with Powerpoint presentations. At the end of the course, there will also be seminars held by experts in the field of applied biological chemistry.
Teaching Resources
- Brown, Foote, Iverson, Anslyn CHIMICA ORGANICA, IV edizione
- Francis A. Carey, ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, fourth edition
- Voet, Voet, Pratt: Fondamenti di Biochimica, volume unico, 2a Edizione, Zanichelli
- Garrett, Grisham: Principi di Biochimica, Piccin
- Nelson, Cox: I Principi di Biochimica di Lehninger, 5a Edizione, Zanichelli
- Petsko, Ringe, Struttura e Funzione delle Proteine, Zanichelli

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 a 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.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test that aims to ascertain the student's knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject covered in the course. The written test requires the answer to open questions and/or the solution of application-type exercises, with contents and difficulties similar to those faced during the course. During the exam, the consultation of texts or notes is not allowed. The final evaluation will result from the joint evaluation of the two teachers.
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Educational website(s)
Thursday, 10:30-12:30
Dept. of Biosciences, C tower, 5th floor