Protein biochemistry

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the Protein Biochemistry course is to explore, at an advanced level, the structural and functional features that support the many and various activities of proteins in the cell. The course will cover the theoretical bases of protein structure, activity and dynamics, with examples from diseases related to protein misfolding and dysfunction, and molecular medicine. For different topics, research approaches employed for the advanced study of protein biochemistry and function will be analyzed and discussed.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have achieved a proficient, in-depth understanding of molecular mechanisms that underlie the main cellular processes, linked to protein synthesis, turnover, proteotoxicity and regulation. The students will therefore acquire the cultural tools for understanding the structural bases of physiological and pathological protein functions, and for the critical and applied analysis of protein biochemistry at the molecular and cellular levels.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Teaching Methods: Lessons will be made available on the Microsoft Teams platform, as powerpoint presentations with narration, on the scheduled class hours. Lessons can be followed asycronously, as recorded presentations will be available until the end of the teaching period. Students' and External speakers seminars will be similarly provided as recorded presentations with narration which will be uploaded on the Teams platform Teaching materials.
Syllabus and Reference Materials will not change during the emergency period.
Written exams will be held using the Moodle-SEB-webconference modality.
Course syllabus
Starting from the fundamental properties of proteins, the course will explore their destinations and behavior in the context of protein synthesis, protein folding/misfolding and aggregation (with an angle on proteotoxicity and misfolding diseases). In particular, recovery of misfolded proteins through chaperones and chaperonins will be analyzed. Processes related to protein turnover and proteolytic digestion will be explored, through detailed analysis of the ubiquitin/proteasome system, lysosome digestion, autophagy and the unfolded protein response from the ER. Apoptosis and related cellular processes will be also covered.
Prerequisites for admission
A solid background in biochemistry, introductory biophysics and cell biology.
Teaching methods
The Protein Biochemistry course is organized as a combination of frontal lectures, seminars held by external speakers, and (optional) seminars presented by the students. Frontal lectures will constitute 80% of teaching activities, in line with course topics. 20% will be contributed by external lecturers and/or students scientific literature presentations.
Teaching Resources
According to the arguments dealt with, reference to specific book chapters (e.g. from Voet & Voet - BIOCHEMISTRY, 3rd Edition, Wiley; The Molecules of Life, J. Kurian et al. Garland Science; Introduction to PROTEINS, A. Kessler, N. Ben-Tal CRC Press) or to literature reviews will be indicated to students during the course, and in provided teaching materials. The varied reference material also reflects the multi-media approach that is a necessary component of advanced level scientific studies and research dealt with in this Course. Lecture slides and literature reference articles will be made available on the Ariel platform (
Assessment methods and Criteria
Examinations consist of a written exam based on three open questions on covered lecture topics. Students who give a seminar during the second half of the course will sit a reduced written exam, and their final grade will be calculated from the weighted average of the grades obtained for the seminar (25%) and written exam (75%).
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Educational website(s)
tuesday 11.30-12.30, by appointment via email