Enzymology and Methabolic Processes

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Students are meant to acquire awareness of the molecular unity of Life and of the specificity of some metabolic pathways with biotechnological application. The acquisition of skills in Enzymology will provide students with tools for the biotechnological use of enzymes.

By the end of the present curricular unit the student is expected to be able to

a) situate the importance of enzymes as tools in Biotechnology;

b) understand the logic of metabolism, in order to interpret /predict changes due to the characteristics of each system and to the variability of external factors;

c) indentify the metabolic pathways involved in the major biotechnological uses, namely in extremophiles;

d) describe and apply methodologies for the production and isolation of enzymes;

e) use mathematical and informatic tools to characterize and analyze enzymatic processes;

f) design and carry out experimental procedures with autonomy and responsibility;

g) present and discuss experimental results with critical mind


1. Biochemical tools in Biotechnology.

2. Enzymes: Structure and stability; mechanisms of catalysis. Kinetic parameters and mathematical analysis. Inhibition. Regulation. Bioinformatics: enzyme/ligand interactions. Applied enzymology: enzymes in Biotechnology. Biotechnological potential of enzymes from extremophiles. Production and isolation of enzymes. Enzyme engineering. Immobilization and biocatalysis in non-conventional systems.

3. Metabolic processes. Energy conversion: autotrophy and heterotrophy, anaerobiosis and aerobiosis. The logic of metabolism. Carbohydrate metabolism: glycolysis and fermentation. Krebs cycle and electron transport chain. Photosynthesis. Metabolism of lipids and nitrogen-compounds. Integration of metabolism. "Alternative" metabolisms in biotechnology – Archaea, bacteria and cyanobacteria.

4. Laboratory: Analysis of proteins and of their operational stability. Isolation and characterization of bromelain, a protease with industrial interest.

Teaching Methodologies

The curricular unit will be taught in b-learning, combining activities in the classroom and in the lab with asynchronous activities, computer-mediated by the Moodle learning platform. Student's participation is encouraged by the use of PBL (Problem-based learning) and by executing lab activities. The first approach to each item will be carried out with lectures based on the presentation of schemes / images (Power Point) illustrating objects, concepts and processes. Some subjects and concepts, will be carried out with computers in one of the Informatics Classrooms, giving the students the opportunity to practice methodologies and use free access simulation programmes. Lab experiments will be carried out in lab practical classes after discussing the experimental methodologies to be carried out.

Evaluation will be based on:

1) Two written tests covering knowledge of the matter;
2) The execution of practical work and the presentation/discussion of the results obtained.


[1] Cabral, JMS, Aires-Barros, MR, Gama, M (Eds). 2003. Engenharia enzimática. Lidel, Lisboa. Cornish-Bowden, A. 1995. Fundamentals of Enzyme kinetics. Portland Press, London.

[2] Barreto, M.C., Simões, N. (eds.) 2012. Determination of Biological Activities. A Laboratory Manual. Universidade dos Açores, Ponta Delgada. ISBN 978-972-8612-82-5

[3] Berg, L. , Tymoczco, J.L., Stryer, L. 2002. Biochemistry, 5th edition, W.H. Freeman & Co., New York

[4] Boyer, R.F. 2000. Modern Experimental Biochemistry, 3rd edition, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Menlo Park

[5] Quintas, A., Freire, A.P., Halpern, M.J. 2008. Bioquímica - Organização Molecular da Vida. Ed. Lidel, Lisboa.

[6] Wilson, K. & Walker, J. 1994. Principles and Techniques of Practical Biochemistry. Cambridge University Press



ECTS Credits



  • Práticas e Laboratórios - 30 hours
  • Teórico-Práticas - 30 hours

Evaluation Methodology

  • According to the Teaching Methodologies: 100%