12 credits during the 2nd year of 8452 Pharmacy (LM-13) GENOVA
GENOVA (Pharmacy)
2° Semester
Teaching materials


The purpose of Biochemistry is the knowledge of the chemistry of life and is concerned essentially to analyze the chemical and three-dimensional structure of biological molecules and their interactions, the ways and the mechanisms that the cell uses to synthesize, degrade, organize and coordinate them. It also deals to define the processes of conservation and use of energy and conservation, transmission and expression of genetic information.



The teaching of Biochemistry aims to provide the knowledge for understand the mechanisms that are the basis of life by describing  the structure and function of biomolecules. The principles of bioenergetics that rule the biochemical transformations will allow to clarify the metabolic changes that undergo biomolecules and their interactions both at the molecular and cellular level. Finally, we will address the biochemical aspects related to genetic information and how it is translated into amino acid sequences. The teaching of applied biochemistry provides general approaches to biochemical testing.


The study of Biochemistry has as objective the study of the structure and function of the cell to a better understanding of the vital processes occurring in living beings with particular attention to the interrelations of catabolic and anabolic processes and their regulation mechanisms. Understand, in fact biochemical processes is a prerequisite for any professional profile in the biological sciences. During the course we will delve into the structure, function and metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins with emphasis on enzymatic catalysis to its regulation and its control. Then It will be introduced the concepts of Molecular Biology with a focus on the processes of DNA replication, RNA transcription and protein synthesis via translation. The final part of the course will be dedicated to Applied Biochemistry with the deepening of the main techniques used in a biochemical laboratory with particular attention to those used in protein purification processes. The topics covered in the course are the chemistry of biological macromolecules with references to physicochemical, thermodynamics and bioenergetics.

During the course, students must achieve certain objectives:

  • to acquire the concept of the relationship between structure and function of biomolecules, especially proteins
  • to acquire the concept of relationship between structure and function of enzymes. Particular attention should be given to enzyme catalysis.
  • to acquire the concept of relationship structure and function of carbohydrates and lipids
  • to understand the metabolic pathways of catabolic type used to obtain energy from the degradation of biomolecules
  • knowing the type of anabolic pathways for carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleotides, the components necessary for cell structure and function
  • to know the basics of molecular biology: DNA as the genetic material, the mechanisms of replication, transcription, translation and regulation.
  • to learn from the theoretical point of view of the fundamental principles of the main techniques used in a biochemical laboratory, paying particular attention to the techniques used in the purification of proteins.

Teaching methods

Lectures and discretionary laboratory


Amino acids and proteins Classification and chemical properties of amino acids. Primary, secondary and tertiary protein: examples. quaternary structure. Hemoglobin and myoglobin: structure and function. Pathological hemoglobins. Catalysis and enzyme kinetics: factors and laws that regulate it. Enzyme inhibition, allosterism and regulating the activity of enzymes.

Metabolism and energy problems connected Anabolism and catabolism, synthesis and degradation of high-energy bonds.

Glucose metabolism Structure of main mono, di and polysaccharides. Main glucose utilization pathways. Glycolysis: enzymatic steps, co-enzymes and vitamins concerned, energy balance and regulation. Hexose monophosphate shunt and its biological importance. Reduced glutathione: structure and functions. Interconversion of phosphorylated sugars. Synthesis and degradation of glycogen and hormonal regulation (adrenaline, glucagon and insulin). Metabolism of fructose, mannose and galactose. Gluconeogenesis: specific enzymatic steps and regulation. The oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvic acid: vitamin co-enzymes and enzymes involved. The citric acid cycle: enzymatic steps, energy balance and regulation.

Lipid Metabolism Oxidative demolition of the main classes of fatty acids (odd and even, saturated and unsaturated): enzymatic steps and energy efficiency. Formation of ketone bodies in normal and pathological conditions. Synthesis of fatty acids: Fatty acid synthase complex, lengthening process and unsaturation. Synthesis and degradation of triacylglycerols, phospholipids, sphingolipids. Arachidonic acid metabolism. Cholesterol: structure, function, enzymatic steps of the synthesis and regulation. Synthesis of compounds derived from cholesterol and isoprenoid.

Bioenergetics Oxidative Phosphorylation: organization and localization of protein complexes in mitochondria Electron transport, ATP synthesis and proton pumps. Photosynthesis: light and dark phase. Photorespiration.

Nitrogen metabolism Metabolism of amino acids. Transamination and oxidative deamination. Stages enzyme of the urea cycle. Oxidative degradation of the carbon skeleton of amino acids. Biosynthetic processes related to amino acids. Ex-novo synthesis, recovery streets and demolition of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides.

The biological information Structure of nucleic acids. DNA replication. Transcription. RNA maturation. Genetic code. Protein synthesis. Post-translational modifications, transport and demolition of proteins. Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes: lac operon.

Applied Biochemistry General Approach to biochemical research. Methods of cell breakage. Centrifugation techniques. Purification of proteins and enzymes: determination of total protein, enzyme activity assay with spectrophotometric techniques, definition of the specific activity. Main types of chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques. Determination of the primary structure of the proteins.


  • Nelson D.L e Cox M.M., I Principi di Biochimica di  Lehninger, Zanichelli ed.
  • Berg J., Tymoczko J.L. e Stryer L., Biochimica, Zanichelli ed.
  • Garret R.H. e Grisham C.M., Biochimica con aspetti molecolari della Biologia cellulare, Zanichelli ed.
  • Voet D., Voet J.G. e Pratt C.W., Fondamenti di Biochimica, Zanichelli ed.
  • Garret R.H. e Grisham C.M., Biochimica, Piccin ed.
  • Devlin T.M., Biochimica con aspetti clinico-farmaceutici, EdiSES Ed.
  • Ninfa A.J., Ballou D.P, Metodologie di base per la Biochimica e la Biotecnologia, Zanichelli ed.
  • Stoppini M., Bellotti V., Biochimica Applicata, EdiSES Ed.
  • Bonaccorsi Di Patti M.C., Contestabile R., Di Salvo M.L., Metodologie Biochimiche, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana Ed.


Ricevimento: Every day from 9:30 AM to 12:00 AM by phone appointment or by mail.

Exam Board




Teaching methods

Lectures and discretionary laboratory


At the end of February


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Exam description

Oral examination

Assessment methods

The student has to demonstrate learning of the topics included in the program and treated during the lectures and independent judgment. It must be acquired an adequate knowledge of the structure and function of different classes of biomolecules and the different metabolic pathways not only in their structure but also in their interdependence and regulation. It will also evaluate the expression of concepts by means of an adequate and appropriate scientific terminology biochemical language.