|Lecture Notes: 17 January||
Who am I?
How to study:
Notes are key-nearly everything you will need to know I will cover in lecture. So how can you get the most out of your notes?
Don't rely on/be seduced by on-line notes.
Discussion: Look at Discussion page on internet for weekly topics/assignments. Note info in Syllabus.
Weekly Review on web: Look at Review page on internet for weekly topics
You will be expected to do some synthesis and problem solving in doing this course.
Biochemistry focuses on a limited range of areas within the manifestation of life, but as we shall see this range is still vast:
In this course I will focus on these issues in eukaryotes, specifically humans, because I want you to understand a functional system with all of the regulation etc. it requires. We will look at eukaryotes because they involve intracellular compartmentation and humans because I want a system with multiple intercommunicating organs and cell types, and because the human system is probably the best understood eukaryote system.
We will largely ignore biological information (#6 above) since most of you will cover that in your Biology courses, particularly genetics.
First, we will start with the basic requirements of an idealized, simplest life form and ask why life should use the particular atoms and molecules we see dominating in living organisms.
The following observations may be made regarding the elements of life:
Life is largely a phenomena of hydrogen and the second period of the Periodic Table. That is, the major component elements (red) in all known organisms are from these periods. Why these four elements?
- First, we might observe that H, O, N, and C are the smallest elements capable of forming 1, 2, 3, and 4 bonds respectively. Smallest is important because that means they can form the strongest most stable covalent bonds. So these atoms are going to be capable of forming some of the most stable molecules, an important consideration for something that needs to grow and reproduce in a hostile environment.
- C is particlarly noteworthy because it forms strong, stable bonds with itself. As a result it can form the backbone of large chain and branched structures, a unique charecter among the elements.
- Second, C, N, and O are also the only elements capable of forming strong multiple bonds (carbon and nitrogen can form triple bonds, all three can form double bonds).
Last modified 17 January 2007