Biochemistry II (Plant and Animal)

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


Biochemistry has its roots in medicine, nutrition, agriculture, and natural products chemistry. It studies 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 all the modern equipment and computer systems many biochemists also study intact systems and how each system functions and the other structures or processes that may be affected.

In this course, you'll study  the important building blocks of life including:

  • amino acids
  • proteins
  • sugars
  • polysaccharides
  • lipids
  • enzymes
  • vitamins
  • hormones
  • RNA
  • DNA

This course focuses on biochemical molecules. Excellent for people returning to study, health workers, and more.

Recommended course prerequisites: Biochemistry I (Plant) BSC102 or Biochemistry I (Animal) BSC103 or similar, before attempting this module.

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


  • Learn the characteristics of biochemical molecules and to distinguish between different groups of biochemical molecules.
  • Describe the structural characteristics and other properties that differentiate standard amino acids one from another.
  • Learn about the 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.
  • Understand 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.
  • Become familiar with some of the basic laboratory techniques used in biochemistry and to appreciate the importance of safety in the laboratory.


Hormones are organic substances which are produced in very small quantities in one part of an organism, then transported to another part of that organism, where they exert a significant effect. Different hormones are able to stimulate specific and important metabolic processes, such as growth and reproduction. Hormones include growth regulators and other chemicals which affect the growth of plants and animals.

Every cell is capable of producing a vast number of regulatory molecules. The classical endocrine glands (parathyroid, thyroid, pituitary, pancreas) and their hormone products are specialized to serve regulation on the overall organism level, but can in many instances be used in other ways or only on the tissue level.

Specifically the endocrine system functions to:

  • Monitor and maintain homeostasis
  • Monitor and respond to external stimuli (fight or flight, for example)
  • Instigate, monitor, and continue programs such as maturation, circadian rhythms, menstrual cycles and pregnancy.

The rate of production of a given hormone is most commonly regulated by a homeostatic control system, generally by negative feedback. Homeostatic regulation of hormones depends, apart from production, on the metabolism and excretion of hormones.

Hormone secretion can be stimulated and inhibited by:

  • Other hormones (stimulating or releasing-hormones) 
  • Plasma concentrations of ions or nutrients, as well as binding globulins 
  • Neurons and mental activity 
  • Environmental changes, e.g. of light or temperature

Hormones coordinate the interaction of the various kinds of cells that make up the body. Cells communicate with each other by chemical signals, and hormones are one such signalling system. They act rapidly on target cells because they are hydrophobic and are therefore able to traverse plasma membranes easily..

There are three kinds of chemical signalling that can be distinguished in the human body.

  • Autocrine - the cell signals itself through a chemical that it synthesizes and then responds to it. Autocrine signalling can occur solely within the cytoplasm of the cell or by a secreted chemical interacting with receptors on the surface of the same cell.
  • Paracrine - chemical signals that diffuse into the area and interact with receptors on nearby cells. Examples are the release of cytokines that cause an inflammatory response in the area as well as the release of neurotransmitters at synapses in the nervous system.
  • Endocrine - the chemicals are secreted into the blood and carried by blood and tissue fluids to the cells they act upon, which are often located large distances from the cell that secreted the hormone.


Plant Hormones

  • Plant hormones are chemicals that regulate or control the growth and/or development of plants
  • They are also called phytohormones
  • There are many different types of plant hormones, including auxins. gibberellins and cytokinins

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