Biochemistry II

Course CodeBSC203
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Build the backbone of your career with Biochemistry II

This informative course focuses on the important building blocks of life such as: amino acids, proteins, sugars, polysaccharides, lipids, enzymes, vitamins, homones, RNA and DNA. There is an emphasis on biochemical molecules which will help prepare you for Biochemistry III (Biochemical Processes) for which this course is also a prerequisite.

This informative course focuses on the important building blocks of life such as: amino acids, proteins, sugars, polysaccharides, lipids, enzymes, vitamins, hormones, RNA and DNA.  There is an emphasis on biochemical molecules which will help prepare you for Biochemistry III (Biochemical Processes) for which this course is also a prerequisite.

Biochemistry has its roots in medicine, nutrition, agriculture, and natural products chemistry. It covers many other areas as well, but today it is mostly is concerned with the chemistry of molecules found in and associated with living systems, especially the chemistry of these molecules. Biochemists are always trying to break processes down in order to understand how these work, how molecules are created or destroyed and how they relate and affect each other. With the advent of modern computing and technology, biochemists also study intact systems and how each system functions and the other structures or processes that may be affected.

Prerequisite: Plant or Animal Biochemistry I or equivalent.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Biochemical Molecules
    • What is Biochemistry?
    • Cells – Prokaryote Cells, Eukaryote Cells, Viruses and Prions
    • Biomolecules – Proteins, Carbohydrates, Lipids, Nucleic Acids, Vitamins and Co-enzymes, Hormones and Neurotransmitters
    • Metabolic Processes – Catabolism and Anabolism
  2. Amino Acids
    • Amino Acids – Biochemical Nomenclature
    • Amino Acid Properties – Acidic and Basic, Hydrophilic and Hydrophobic, Polarity of the Side Chain, Amino Acid Polarity and Non-standard Amino Acids
    • Genetic Coding of Amino Acids
    • Terminology
  3. Structure of Proteins
    • Proteins Functions
    • Protein Structure – Primary Structure, Secondary Structure, Tertiary Structure, Quaternary Structure
    • Fibrous Proteins – Collagen, Elastin, Keratin, Globular Proteins, Albumin
    • Cofactors and Conformation
    • Post-Translational Modifications
    • Protein Denaturation
    • Protein Degradation
  4. Protein Dynamics
    • Protein Folding
    • Molecular Chaperones
    • Heat Shock Proteins – HSP90, HSP70, HSP60, Small Heat Shock Proteins
    • Chaperones
    • The Importance of Understanding Protein Structure
    • Structural Evolution of Proteins
    • Dynamics of Haem Proteins – Haemoglobin Co-operativity
  5. Sugars and Polysaccharides
    • Saccharides – Monosaccharides, Oligosaccharides, Polysaccharides, Lectins
    • Polysaccharide Bonds
    • Polysaccharide Function – Classification of Monosaccharides, Ring or Chain Types, Complex Sugars
    • Monosaccharides – Glucose, Fructose, Galactose
    • Disaccharides – Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose
    • Polysaccharides – Starch, Dextrin, Glycogen, Cellulose
  6. Lipids (Fats) and Membranes
    • Lipids – Fatty Acids, Triacilgliceroles, Neutral Lipids, Phospholipids, Glycolipids, Terpenoids
    • Cholesterol
    • Cellular Membranes
    • Terminology
  7. Enzymes, Vitamins and Hormones
    • Enzymes - Coenzymes
    • Vitamins – Vitamin Classification, Reviewing Vitamin C
    • Hormones – Plant Hormones
  8. DNA and RNA
    • Nucleic Acids – Structure of DNA, Types of RNA
    • DNA Replication
    • Inheritance
    • Interesting facts about DNA
  9. Laboratory Techniques
    • Laboratory Health and Safety
    • Common Experimental Methods – DNA Methods, Protein Methods, General Methods


  • Describe the characteristics of a range of biochemical molecules
  • Distinguish between different groups of biochemical molecules.
  • Describe the structural characteristics and other properties that differentiate standard amino acids one from another.
  • Discuss structures of different proteins (both covalent and 3-dimensional).
  • Describe common protein dynamics including folding, structural evolution and haemoglobin function.
  • Describe the structure and dynamics of different types of saccharides and polysaccharides.
  • Discuss the composition and structure of both lipids and membranes.
  • Describe the structure and dynamics of different types of enzymes, vitamins and hormones.
  • Describe the structure and function of different types of nucleic acids including DNA and RNA.
  • Identify some of the basic laboratory techniques used in biochemistry and to appreciate the importance of safety in the laboratory.

How are Molecules Made?

There are a range of chemical reactions that occur in any living cell.

Many biological reactions are members of a metabolic pathway. That is, they function as one of a sequence of enzymatic reactions that produce specific products.


There are two major types of metabolism:


1. Catabolism or degradation. Nutrients and cell constituents are broken down to salvage their components and/or generate energy. Catabolism occurs mainly in awake and active states, as during the day for diurnal animals, and night for nocturnal animals. It supplies the energy to carry out all the tasks that are needed during activity: searching for food, communicating, reproduction, playing.


2. Anabolism or biosynthesis. Biomolecules are synthesized from simpler components. The energy required by anabolic processes is provided by catabolic processes largely accumulated during active hours in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Anabolism occurs mainly during resting hours, as in sleep. It happens during the night in diurnal animals and during their day sleep in diurnal animals. In plants the photosynthesis process is an example of anabolic process.

Metabolic pathways are:

    • Irreversible – due the energy requirements, particularly the first reaction
    • Different – catabolism is not simply the reverse of the anabolic reaction, the pathways are different
    • Regulated – rate-limiting steps (the first reaction and possibly a reaction later in the particular pathway) prevent either pathway getting out of control. Typically the enzyme required is limited.
    • Compartmentalised – in eukaryotes.

In Living things, metabolic processes are controlled directly or indirectly by genetics, and to understand genetics, you must understand the most important molecules -nucleic acids.

Nucleic acids are the chemicals that make up genetic material in a living cell. There are two types of nucleic acids: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). Both of these nucleic acids have only discovered in the last fifty years, although the belief that some sort of coded information was passed on to subsequent generations has been around for quite a while. DNA molecules store the genetic information. RNA molecules translate and transmit this genetic information, by co-ordinating the building of proteins from amino-acids, based on the genetic code from the DNA.


DNA molecules (like proteins) are very long (ie. polymers). Different DNA molecules are similar, but still different to each other. A DNA molecule can self duplicate itself: this characteristic being the basis for reproduction of an offspring which shares characteristics with its parent.


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