Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 8
Hours 64
Period 1^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code ST01 3S020


Basic knowledge of general and inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, mathematics and physics.

Development of the course

Both theoretical lessons (up to 7 CFU, 56 hours) and laboratory experiments performed in small teams (at least 1 CFU, 8 hours) are provided. To support the theoretical lessons, in the Moodle platform are inserted: didactic material, instructions, protocols and booking forms for the laboratory experiments.

Learning outcomes

The course provides knowledge on the structure and function of the main biological molecules and their role on the production and the conversion of the metabolic energy, the metabolic energy pathways and their regulation, the general strategies that underlie the processes of life.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
The student will be able to apply what learned and understood both for studying subjects as Molecular Biology, Plant Physiology, Pharmacology, etc., for which is necessary to know the main biochemical mechanisms and for dealing with complex and multidisciplinary problems.

Soft skills:
The execution of the laboratory experiments will contribute to improve the ability of judgment of the student, the ability of learning and to draw conclusions and the ability to communicate that derives from the working in teams.


Contents (theoretical lessons, up to 7 CFU, 56 hours):
Aminoacids: structure and properties. Proteins: structure and function. Hemoglobin and myoglobin, saturation curves and cooperativity. Enzymes: enzymatic catalysis, activation energy. Enzymatic kinetics: Michaelis-menten model, determination of kinetics parameters, reversible competitive and non competitive inhibition. Enzymatic activity regulation: allosteric enzymes. Lipids: fatty acids, triglycerides, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids and cholesterol. Biological membranes: structure and chemical-physical properties. Glucides: structure and function, glycoconjugates and glycoproteins. Metabolism: basic concepts and aims. Role of ATP and of the so-called “high energy” compounds in the energetic metabolism. Glucose metabolism. Glycolysis. Pyruvate metabolism. Phosphate pentose pathway. Gluconeogenesis and glycogen metabolism. Cori cycle. Citric acid cycle. Electron transport chain. Oxidative phosphorylation. Malate-aspartate and glycerol 3-phosphate shuttle systems. Fatty acids activation and transport. Fatty acids degradation. Formation and metabolic role of ketone bodies. Fatty acids synthesis. Protein nitrogen metabolism and aminoacids degradation. Urea cycle. Signal transduction: general aspects and intracellular ways of signal amplification and turn-off. Transduction mechanisms in adrenaline and insulin ways. Protein degradation: ubiquitin and proteasome 20S role. 
Laboratory experiments (at least 1 CFU, 8 hours): 
Spectrophotometric analysis of unknown concentration samples by means of linear regression method; Spectrophotometric assay of a citric acid cycle enzyme.; Kinetic parameters determination of an enzyme in the presence and absence of a reversible inhibitor.

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
To value the learning the are two type of examinations, a written one and a oral one. The written one, that lasts for 60 minutes, consists of fifteen multiple choice questions and three open-ended questions. The oral one, that lasts for 15-20 minutes, consists of three open-ended questions. Getting through the written examination is necessary to gain access to the oral examination.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The questions of the written and oral examination are focused to verify the level of knowledge and comprehension of the student on the topics of the theoretical lessons and of the laboratory experiments. In the written examination, the open-ended questions are focused also to determine the ability of the student to synthesize and to explain clearly and precisely the topics. 

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The final mark is assigned in thirtieths. The examination is considered passed if the final mark is equal or more than 18. It is possible to assign “with a first” mark (30 cum laude). 

Criteria for conferring final mark:
For the written examination, every correct answer to a multiple choice question counts as one point while every answer to the open-ended questions is valued between zero and five points, depending on its correctness and its exhaustiveness. The mark of the written examination is calculated as the sum of the points obtained in the various type of questions added of a further point. A mark of 16 points is a requisite to be admitted to the oral examination. Every answer of the oral examination is valued between zero and ten points, depending on the correctness, exhaustiveness and the ability of expounding. The marks obtained in the written and in the oral examination are averaged to obtain the final mark. The mark “with a first” (30 cum laude) can be obtained if the final mark, obtained from the average of the written and oral examination, is equal to 30 points and at the same time the student has proved to possess a thorough knowledge of the subject during the oral examination. 

Recommended reading

J.M. Berg, J.L. Tymoczko e L. Stryer, “BIOCHIMICA”, 7a ed. Zanichelli.
J. L. Tymoczko, J. M. Berg, L. Stryer, “PRINCIPI DI BIOCHIMICA”, ed. Zanichelli.

  • Scienze biologiche

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