APPLIED BIOCHEMISTRY

Teachers: 
Credits: 
8
Site: 
PARMA
Year of erogation: 
2021/2022
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
Biochemistry
Semester: 
Second semester
Year of study: 
3
Language of instruction: 

Italian

Learning outcomes of the course unit

1. Knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Know how to classify proteins that are drug targets and recognize their specific functional and structural properties (Part I)
- Know and understand possible mechanisms of drug action from a biochemical point of view (Part I)
- Know and understand the main biochemical methodologies described in the course (Part II)
- Know and understand the principles of each methodology in molecular details (Part II)
- Know and understand the components of the instruments described in the course (Part II)

2. Applying knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Identify the possible mechanism of action of a drug once its target is known (Part I)
- Recognize the possible mechanism of inhibition of an enzyme, based on the alteration of its kinetic parameters (Part I)
- Recognize the type of interaction between a drug and a receptor based on experimental observations (Part I)
- Identify the most suitable technique to obtain functional or structural pieces of information on macromolecules (Part II)
- Correctly represent a dataset graphically (Part II)
- Process simple datasets and their graphic representations to obtain structural and functional pieces of information (Part II)
- Query the biochemical databases illustrated in the course to retrieve information on proteins and genes (Part II).

3. Communication skills. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Discuss the topics described in the course in a clear, concise and effective way.
- Describe the chemical structures of the main compounds and the mechanisms of enzyme and chemical reactions illustrated in the lectures (both Part I and Part II) with the correct scientific vocabulary.
- Describe any proteins in terms of secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure (Part II).
- Represent schematically the main biochemical techniques

4. Learning skills. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- make connections between the various topics of the course and those dealt with in other courses (particularly in the biochemical, pharmacological and physiological fields).
- Improve future knowledge on the main biochemical issues by querying databases
- Improve future knowledge by reading scientific publications (reviews)
- Understand the potential of research in biochemistry.

Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of biology, organic chemistry and biochemistry. It is highly recommended that the student has passed the Biochemistry exam before sitting the Applied Biochemistry exam.

Course contents summary

The first part of the course focuses on the main biological macromolecules and on the major metabolic pathways as drug targets.
The second part focuses on the main biochemical and molecular biology techniques.

Course contents

PART I
• Biochemistry of drug targets
• The nature of drug targets
• Proteins as drug targets: Enzymes; receptors and signal transduction pathways, transmembrane carriers; pumps and channels
• DNA as a drug target: Drugs that interact with DNA.
• RNA as a drug target: antisense nucleotides and structural analogues.
• Drugs that interact with ribosomal RNA and other ribozymes.
• RNA interference.
• Membrane lipids as drug targets.

PART II
• Recombinant DNA technology
• Expression of recombinant proteins
• Purification of proteins
• Electrophoresis
• Spectroscopic techniques
• Enzyme kinetics at the steady-state
• Immunochemical techniques
• Blotting
• DNA sequencing
• Introduction to proteomics

Recommended readings

The teaching material includes all the slides shown in class and will be made available on a weekly basis on the Elly platform.

Reference books:
- Biochimica e Biologia Molecolare - Principi e tecniche. A cura di Keith Wilson e John Walker. Raffaello Cortina Editore.
- Metodologie Biochimiche. A cura di Carmela Bonaccorsi di Patti, Roberto Contestabile e Martino Luigi di Salvo. Casa Editirce Ambrosiana.
- “Stryer – Biochimica”. A cura di Berg, Tymoczko. Zanichelli editore

Teaching methods

The teaching activities will be carried out in the form of in-person lectures, with short classroom exercises aimed at the student's self-assessment. Blended teaching methods will possibly be considered as mandated by the University. For part I (drug targets), students will be offered, on a voluntary basis, the opportunity to read and subsequently discuss with the teacher a review paper on a topic of their choice. For part II (biochemical methodologies), the teacher, when possible, will bring to the classroom and explain small instruments and devices. Before the exam, the students will be given the opportunity, in small groups, to visit the Biochemistry laboratories.

Assessment methods and criteria

The achievement of the objectives will be assessed in an oral examination divided into two parts. The exam will take place on the official exam dates, upon online registration.

One part of the exam will focus on the main biochemical techniques. The student could be asked to solve simple biochemical problems or analyse instrumental data. The in-depth understanding of the techniques will be required.

The second part of the exam will cover the biochemistry of drug targets. The student will be required to analyze the various molecular mechanisms of drug action and to discuss the examples given in class.
The evaluation on a scale of 0 to 30 will take into account the level of study, the ability to apply critically the acquired knowledge, the appropriateness of scientific language and the autonomy in the discussion.