Core course in MSc Life Science and Technology (Molecular Sciences series). Elective course in MSc Chemistry
This course is intended for students with a BSc MST, LST, or equivalent. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of coordination chemistry (d orbitals, coordination geometries), physical chemistry (binding constants, 1st order kinetics), biochemistry (nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, sugars), and spectroscopy (NMR, UV-vis, emission, infrared).
There will be two voluntary revision lectures in the first weeks of the course covering the most important prerequisites and giving a reminder of knowledge needed in the course, especially on coordination chemistry. These extra lectures are strongly recommended for LST students and others who have had limited teaching in inorganic chemistry.
Metal ions such as iron, zinc, calcium, or copper, are ubiquitous in nature. They play a major role in biology, for example for the transmission of action potential along axons, for the transport and control of oxygen-based species, or for the appearance of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or diabetis.
The course first describes the binding of metal ions to biomolecules, how different metal ions differentiate from each other, and how different biomolecules and proteins bind to different metal ions. The second part of the course describes two families of proteins: those based on zinc ions, and those involved in the production, transport, and control of dioxygen. The specific role of the metal in these different proteins is discussed. A third part of the course studies how metals are absorbed by living cells and organisms, and transported to where they are needed. Then, the role of metal imbalance in disease is discussed, as well as heavy metal pollution. Finally, the last part of the course is dedicated to inorganic drugs and the use of metal-based compounds for medicine, looking at both imaging and therapy.
The students following this course will be trained to:
extract information from the text and figures of a bioinorganic chemistry scientific article, to answer questions on it
communicate about the role of metals in life in the form of a short video
sum up in proper English a range of scientific articles on a single bioinorganic chemistry topic
understand the HSAB theory and how biological ligands bind to different metal ions
use UV-vis, vibrational, emission, NMR, and circular dichroism spectrometry, for analysing the interaction between metal ions and biomolecules
understand the biological roles of essential metal ions in living systems, including Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ca, Mg, Na, and K
apply association constants & rate constants for understanding metal binding to proteins, and do calculations with them
understand which kind of binding site can bind which metal ions, and how different metal ions differentiate from each other
understand the notions of first and second coordination sphere in metalloproteins
differentiate the bound metal pool from the “free” metal pool
know different mechanisms by which metal ions penetrate in living organisms and cells and are stored
understand how metal ions can cross membranes in bacteria, plants, or mammalian cells
understand the relation between metal (dis)homeostasis and disease
understand oxidative stress and the role played by metals in increasing it (eg Fenton) or reducing it (eg SOD)
know the different roles played by metal ions in the central nervous system
understand how to quantify the toxicity of metal compounds using dose-response curves
understand how heavy metal pollution influences human health
understand the role of metal-based drugs in pharmacology and be able to cite a few clinically approved compounds and their applications for human health
understand the classical mode of action of platinum-based drugs
distinguish requirements for imaging vs. therapy with metallodrugs
understand chemical biological uses of metal-based compounds
understand the use of radioisotopes for imaging and therapy
Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes.
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Mode of instruction
Online videos to look before the course and exercises to prepare; courses consist in Q&A on the videos and correcting the exercise together. The students are also asked to prepare a video in teams (homework).
Written examination (70%) and video assignment (30%)
The course is based on the slides presented during the courses and exercises and previous exams corrected together. The following book is recommended:
Biological Inorganic Chemistry, A New Introduction to Molecular Structure and Function (3rd Edition) by Robert Crichton, ISBN: 978-0-12-811741-5, Publisher: Elsevier Science & Technology. A digital license is available for students of this course via the University Library system.
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