Course Name: Biochemistry

Credits: 4.0

Level: Undergraduate

Pre-requisite: Organic Chemistry, Biology

Lecture Time: 10 weeks, 2 sessions/week, 2 hours/session

Instructors: Dr. Guohong Li, Dr. Pingsheng Liu, Dr. Jiangyun Wang, Dr. Sarah Perrett, Dr. Pingyong Xu.

Course Description

This course introduces the basic principles of biochemistry including history and evolution of biochemistry, fundamentals of the chemistry of living systems, introduction to major categories of biochemical substances (including amino acids, peptides, proteins, enzymes, saccharides, nucleic acids, and lipids), metabolic pathways and principles of biochemical information transfer. This course is designed for undergraduate students to explore the structure and function of key biomolecules, the mechanics by which the cellular machinery is supplied with energy, and the chemical laws in biological processes.

Topics and Schedule

  1. The foundation of biochemistry (2 hrs)

1.1.   Cellular foundations

1.2.   Chemical and physical foundations

1.3.   Genetic and evolutionary foundations

  1. Structure and functions of proteins (4 hrs)

2.1.   Amino acids, peptide and proteins

2.2.   The primary and higher-order structure of proteins

2.3.   Protein structure and function

2.4.   Physicochemical properties of proteins and their isolation and purification

  1. Enzymes (4 hrs)

3.1.   An introduction to Enzymes

3.2.   How enzymes work

3.3.   Enzyme kinetics

3.4.   Examples of enzymatic reactions

3.5.   Regulatory enzymes

  1. Carbohydrates and glycobiology (2 hrs)

4.1.   Monosaccharides and polysaccharides

4.2.   Glycoconjugates: Proteoglycans, Glycoproteins and Glycosphingolipids

4.3.   Carbohydrates as informational molecules: the sugar code

4.4.   Working with carbohydrates

  1. Nucleotides and nucleic acids (2 hrs)

5.1.   Some basics

5.2.   Nucleic acid structure

5.3.   Nucleic acid chemistry

5.4.   Other function of nucleotides

  1. Lipids (2 hrs)

6.1.   An introduction to lipids

6.2.   Storage lipids

6.3.   Structural lipids in membranes

6.4.   Lipids as signals, cofactors and pigments

6.5.   Working with lipids

  1. Bioenergetics and metabolism (2 hrs)

7.1.   Bioenergetics and thermodynamics

7.2.   Chemical logic and common biochemical reactions

7.3.   Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP

7.4.   Biological oxidation-reduction reaction

  1. Glycolysis, Gluconeogenesis and Pentose phosphate pathway (2 hrs)

8.1.   Glycolysis

8.2.   Feeder pathways for glycolysis

8.3.   Fates of Pyruvate under anaerobic conditions: fermentation

8.4.   Gluconeogenesis

8.5.   Pentose phosphate pathway

  1. Principles of metabolic regulation (2 hrs)

9.1.   Regulation of metabolic pathways

9.2.   Analysis of metabolic control

9.3.   Coordinated regulation of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis

9.4.   The metabolism of glycogen in animals

9.5.   Coordinated regulation of glycogen synthesis and breakdown

  1. The citric acid cycle (2 hrs)

10.1.      Production of acetyl-CoA

10.2.      Reaction of the citric acid cycle

10.3.      Regulation of the citric acid cycle

10.4.      The glyoxylate cycle

  1. Oxidative phosphorylation and photophosphorylation (2 hrs)

11.1. Electron-transfer reaction in mitochondria

11.2. ATP synthesis

11.3. Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation

  1. Photosynthesis (2 hrs)

12.1.      General features of photophosphorylation

12.2.      The central photochemical event: light-driven electron flow

12.3.      ATP synthesis by photophosphorylation

  1. Lipid metabolism (2 hrs)

13.1.      Lipid digestion and absorption

13.2.      Fatty acid oxidation

13.3.      Metabolism of ketone bodies

  1. Lipid biosynthesis (2 hrs)

14.1.      Biosynthesis of fatty acid and triacylglycerols

14.2.      Biosynthesis of membrane phospholipids

14.3.      Cholesterol, steroids and isoprenoids: biosynthesis, regulation and transport

  1. Hormones and metabolism (2 hrs)

15.1.      Hormones: diverse structures for diverse functions

15.2.      Tissue-specific metabolism

15.3.      Hormonal regulation of fuel metabolism

15.4.      Obesity and the regulation of body mass

  1. Protein degradation and amino acid metabolism (2 hrs)

16.1.      Protein degradation

16.2.      Metabolic fates of amino groups

16.3.      Nitrogen excretion and the urea cycle

16.4.      Molecules derived from amino acids

  1. Biosynthesis of amino acids and nucleotides (2 hrs)

17.1.      Biosynthesis of amino acids

17.2.      Biosynthesis of nucleotides

17.3.      Degradation of nucleotides

  1. Structure and function of DNA and RNA (2 hrs)

18.1.      Secondary structure of DNA and its biological functions

18.2.      DNA supercoiling

18.3.      The structure of chromatin

18.4.      The structure and function of RNA

18.5.      RNA synthesis and processing


A weekly homework will be given during the 10 weeks of the class. The homework will be graded and their scores will count for 20% of the total. Class attendance will be selectively checked, which count for 10% of the total scores. At the end of the class will be followed by a final examination, which will count for 70%.


Jingyan Wang, Biochemistry, Third Edition, China Higher Education Press, 2002


Nelson and Cox  Lehninger Principles of BiochemistrySixth edition)(Worth Publishers, 2012

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