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Biophysics and Biochemistry

Code: MA221     Acronym: BB

Classification Keyword
OFICIAL Biophysics and Biochemistry

Instance: 2018/2019 - 3T (of 11-02-2019 to 29-03-2019)

Active? Yes
Responsible unit: Molecular Biology
Course/CS Responsible: First Cycle Degree (BSc) in Aquatic Sciences

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
LCMA 43 Oficial Plan 2018 2 - 5 49 135

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Vitor Manuel Vieira da Costa
Luis Miguel Gales Pereira Pinto

Teaching - Hours

Theoretical classes: 3,00
Theoretical and practical : 1,00
Laboratory Practice: 3,00
Type Teacher Classes Hour
Theoretical classes Totals 1 3,00
Vitor Manuel Vieira da Costa 0,85
Jorge Eduardo da Silva Azevedo 0,85
Luis Miguel Gales Pereira Pinto 1,29
Theoretical and practical Totals 1 1,00
Vitor Manuel Vieira da Costa 0,28
Luis Miguel Gales Pereira Pinto 0,42
Jorge Eduardo da Silva Azevedo 0,28
Laboratory Practice Totals 2 6,00
Vitor Manuel Vieira da Costa 1,71
Marta Vaz Mendes 1,71
Elodie Murias Lopes 2,57

Teaching language



The program of Biophysics and Biochemistry aims to prepare students for the understanding of fundamental principles of Physics and its applications in Biology, as well of intermediate metabolism and regulatory mechanisms of metabolic pathways. It is highlighted the importance of signal transduction pathways used by cells to receive, process, amplify and integrate diverse extracellular signals. The student uses basic knowledge to discuss dysfunctions associated with traumas and specific conditions.
This curricular unit also aims at giving students the theoretical and practical knowledge required for the correct utilization of a group of experimental techniques based on physical principles and used for the biochemical characterization of cells, organelles, proteins and metabolites.

Learning outcomes and competences

The student should be able to understand the molecular mechanisms of life in cells. Emphasis will be given to the role of proteins and macromolecules in biochemical processes and to its biophysical characterization either by structure-function and kinetic studies.

Working method



Theoretical classes: 
Protein structure – Aminoacids; primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure. 
Protein function – Enzymes, function and classification, kinetics and mechanisms of inhibition. Transport proteins.
Transmembrane proteins – sodium channels, potassium channels, and transmission of electric impulses. ATP synthase, electrochemical gradient, energy conversion efficiency. Transport proteins by formation of a complex. Several examples.
Fibrous proteins with structural functions.
Carbohydrate metabolism – Glycolysis and lactic acid fermentation. Glycogen metabolism and gluconeogenesis. The pentose-phosphate pathway. Regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Cellular signalling mechanisms by insulin, glucagon and epinephrine. Metabolic adaptations to starvation. 
Bioenergetics – the complex pyruvate dehydrogenase and the Krebs cycle. Regulation of the Krebs cycle. Amphibolic nature of the Krebs cycle. 
Oxidative stress - Reactive oxygen species, molecular damages and antioxidant defences. 
Lipid metabolism – Digestion and absorption of lipids. Lipolysis and beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Synthesis and energetic role of ketone bodies. Synthesis of fatty acids. Biosynthesis of cholesterol. Lipoproteins. Integration and regulation of lipid metabolism. 
Aminoacid metabolism – Aminotransferases and glutamate dehydrogenase. Biosynthesis of non-essential aminoacids. Catabolism of aminoacids and the urea cycle. Ammonia toxicity. Conversion of aminoacids to specialized products – HEME, melanine, hormones, neurotransmitters, nitric oxide and nucleotides. 

Practical classes:
1. Protein crystallization 
2. Visualization of structural models of macromolecules. 
3. Techniques of subcellular fractionation: homogenisation of tissues and cells; differential centrifugation. 
4. Protein analysis by electrophoresis. 
5. Metabolite analysis and determination of enzymatic activities.

Mandatory literature

Nelson David L.; Lehninger principles of biochemistry. ISBN: 0-7167-4339-6
Thomas M. Devlin; Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations, Drexel University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-471-67808-3
Jeremy M. Berg, John L. Tymoczko, Lubert Stryer; Biochemistry, W. H. Freeman, 2007. ISBN: 0-7167-8724-5
Alexandre Quintas, Ana Ponces Freire, Manuel Halpern; Bioquímica – organização molecular da vida, Lidel – edições técnicas, Lda, 2008. ISBN: 978-972-757-431-5
Sternheim M.M., Kane J.W.; General Physics, John Wiley, N.Y. , 2001. ISBN: 0-471-52278-3

Teaching methods and learning activities

Theoretical classes consist on the presentation of the program content with discussion and resolution of problems/exercises.
In practical classes, students working in groups of two perform the laboratorial work and present and discuss the results obtained. The theoretical bases of the methodologies used are presented by the tutor before the execution of the experiments.


Protein purification (A.G. Booth)

Evaluation Type

Evaluation with final exam

Assessment Components

Designation Weight (%)
Exame 100,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

Designation Time (hours)
Estudo autónomo 86,00
Frequência das aulas 49,00
Total: 135,00

Eligibility for exams

According to the rules of the University of Porto: presence in 3/4 of the theoretical-practical classrooms.

Minimum grade in the theoretical evaluation: 10 values

Calculation formula of final grade

Classification of written exam (100%).

Examinations or Special Assignments

Not applicable

Special assessment (TE, DA, ...)

Special evaluation will be provided to all students with a special status, in a date agreed with the Chair.

Classification improvement

After the completion of the course unit, students can improve their grades. However, they can only improve the grade of the final exam and not the other components (practical evaluation).

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