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First semester
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Learning outcomes of the course unit

Biochemistry is the science dealing with the molecular basis of life. Biochemistry deals with composition, structure and function of molecules typical of living organisms and with the chemical reactions that occur in these organisms. The course aims to make students able to understand fundamental concepts regarding: the relationship between structure and function in biological macromolecules, including globular and fibrous proteins, antibodies, enzymes and nucleic acids; metabolic transformations of nutrients; bioenergetics; properties of biological membranes; primary mechanisms of preservation, transmission and translation into protein of the information contained in genes.
In particular, the expected learning outcomes are:
1) Knowledge and understanding:
knowledge of the structure and function of biological macromolecules; knowledge of the fundamental concepts that regulate nature, and in particular chemical and biological systems; knowledge of digestion and absorption processes and quality of nutrients, knowledge of the chemical aspects of food composition and the effect of transformation processes on food components; understanding how specific proteins affect food quality; understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the use of nutrients; understanding of microbial physiology, understanding of enzyme activity in food production, understanding of the effect of nutrients / foods / diets on physiology, metabolism and human health.
2) Application skills:
Use and manipulate formulas and equations, easily managing their relative units of measurement; apply methodologies, techniques and tools for the biological analysis of food; evaluate the role of foods and diets in meeting food requirements.
3) Independent judgment:
Evaluation and interpretation of experimental data; development of a scientific approach to bioethical problems (GMOs); evaluation of teaching.
4) Communication skills
Ability to communicate aspects of human nutrition for health prevention with the world of medicine.
5) Ability to learn
Ability to develop a scientific approach in the execution of experiments and in the mathematical formalization of their results; ability to critically consult food-related websites; ability to autonomously expand one's scientific-cultural background and keep updating on the most recent scientific and technological developments connected to the world of food; ability to successfully carry out the Master's Degree courses of the LM70 class and in particular the Master's Degree course in Food Science and Technologies.


To deal with the topics of the “Biochemistry” course, students should possess a basic knowledge of Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

Course contents summary

The teaching activity is divided into three parts. The first part covers topics regarding protein structure and function. The second part of the course is aimed at studying the main metabolic pathways and their regulation The third part of the course deals with the structure and function of nucleic acids. The course also includes classroom exercise activity.
In particular, the topics covered will be those described below.
Introduction to Biochemistry.
Amino acids.
Peptide bond.
Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins.
Structure and function of: antibodies, structural proteins, transport proteins, and proteins involved in muscle contraction.
Enzymes for food applications
Overview of sugar and lipid structure and classification.
Introduction to metabolism and to Bioenergetics.
Absorption and degradation of sugars, triglycerides and proteins.
Anaerobic metabolism of sugars.
Krebs cycle.
Pentose cycle.
Metabolism of glycogen. Gluconeogenesis.
Ketonic bodies and ketogenesis.
Biosynthesis of fatty acids.
Overview of amino acid metabolism. Degradation of amino acids.
Respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation
Structure and function af nucleic acid.
DNA replication.

Course contents

Introduction to biochemistry. Biological molecules and the role of water.
Structure and physical-chemical characteristics of amino acids.
Characteristics of the peptide bond and angles of rotation.
Primary structure of proteins.
Secondary structures of proteins: alpha and beta structures..
Tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins. Structural motifs and domains.
Protein folding process: thermodynamic bases and chaperonin activity.
Protein denaturation: reversible and irreversible processes. Denaturing agents.
Prion proteins as an example of tertiary structure modification.
Function, structure and analytical use of antibodies.
Structural proteins: function and structure of keratin and collagen.
Mechanism of muscle contraction: actin, myosin, the role of calcium and the phenomenon of rigor mortis.
Structure and function of myoglobin and hemoglobin.
Mechanism of action of enzymes and principles of enzymatic kinetics. Enzymes of food interest.
Overview of structure and classification of lipids and carbohydrates.
Metabolism, fundamental concepts of bioenergetics, anabolism and catabolism.
Sugar absorption and metabolism: absorption of polysaccharides and monosaccharides, entry into the cell and glycolysis.
Anaerobic metabolism of sugars: alcoholic and lactic fermentation.
Characteristics and regulation of the cycle of tricarboxylic acids (from Krebs) and anaplerotic reactions.
Pentose cycle
Glycogen metabolism: glycogen lysis and glycogen synthesis.
Absorption and transport of triglycerides and cholesterol. Oxidative degradation of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids with even and odd number of carbons by beta-oxidation.
Ketonic bodies and ketogenesis.
Fatty acid biosynthesis.
General information on the metabolism of amino acids. Role and mechanism of action of transaminases. Main steps of amino acid degradation.
Respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation.
Correlations with glucidic and lipid metabolism.
General information on conservation, expression and transmission of genetic information. DNA as a repository of genetic information. DNA replication and transcription. Diversification of the function and role of ribosomal, transport and messenger RNAs (r-RNA, t-RNA, m-RNA). The genetic code. Protein synthesis: mechanism of translation process.

Recommended readings

Lehninger principles of biochemistry
Nelson Cox

Biochemistry: Concepts and Connections
Dean R. Appling, Spencer J. Anthony-Cahill
Christopher K. Mathews
Pearson ed.

The books are available at the Department library.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be organized face-to-face with the possibility of using the lessons also remotely in asynchronous mode (uploaded on the Elly page of the course). The teaching will be carried out through lectures in the classroom with the help of slides that will represent teaching material, in addition to the recommended text. The slides will be available online on the website in pdf format for students.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written exam followed by oral exam. The written exam includes 10 closed-ended questions, 3 open-ended questions and 1 question that requires the description, comment and contextualization of a metabolic pathway.
The 10 closed-ended questions concern the fundamental concepts addressed in the course. Only if you reach the sufficiency in these 10 questions, the other questions will be evaluated.
The exam results are published on the ESSE3 portal ( within a reasonable time compatible with the number of students enrolled. Students can view the written exam by making an appointment with the teacher.
If it is impossible to take the written exam in classroom due to rules imposed by the University, only oral examinations will be carried out remotely by using Teams platform. The assessment of the level of knowledge acquired also takes into consideration how the student is able to express himself correctly, with the specific scientific language of biochemistry.

Other informations

In the event of health emergency, teaching and examination methods could undergo changes that will be promptly communicated on Elly platform and on the course website.