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Spectroscopy of biomolecules


Spectroscopy of biomolecules


Academic year 2020/2021

Course ID
BIO0153B Pds 307-DDD
Teaching staff
Prof.ssa Simonetta Geninatti Crich
Dott. Giuliana Magnacca (Lecturer)
Modular course
Degree course
[0101M21] Molecular Biotechnology
1st year
Teaching period
To be defined
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
CHIM/02 - chimica fisica
CHIM/03 - chimica generale e inorganica
Formal authority
Type of examination
Written and oral
Basic knowledge in Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry
Propedeutic for
All courses and practical activities dealing also with methods based on molecular spectroscopies

Sommario del corso


Course objectives


The objectives proposed to students in this course are based on the following achievements:

1.  knowledge of the chemical, physical and physical-chemical principles at the basis of the generation of signals exploited in  molecular spectroscopies of biomolecules, namely NMR spectroscopy and electron spectroscopies (both in absorption and emission)

2. good capability in critical understanding scientific texts

3. good capability in designing investigation of different samples by molecular spectroscopies, on the basis on their constitutive features, possible constrains related to limited amounts, types of outputs requested (identification; quantification)

4. good capability in the complementary use of the molecular spectroscopic methods indicated above




Results of learning outcomes

- Knowledge of main sample handling methods for NMR and electronic spectroscopic (both in absorption and emission) measurements

- Capability to design proper spectroscopic measurements for the investigation of biomolecular samples, taking into account the peculiar features of these samples (e.g, complexity of the matrix), and the specific target(s) to be pursued (identification/quantification)

- Capability to analyse data resulting from the methods indicated above.


Course delivery

The course will be delivered through  lessons in the lecture room (90%) and in labs (10%), for focus on some methodological aspects.
Part of the course will be devoted to NMR (3 CFU, 24 h) and part to electronic (absorption and emission) spectroscopy (2 CFU, 16 h)



Learning assessment methods

The exam is devoted to the assessment of the knowledge, and related understanding, of the program attained by the students. In addition, also knowledge and understanding of basic knowledge in Chemistry and Biochemistry which should be necessary consider will be evaluated, as well as the use of a proper  scientific/technical language.

The examination is carried out in oral form. The final mark is expressed in thirtieths.

Due to the COVID-19 sanitary emergency, the exams could be sustained via webex or alternative platforms.



Absorption electronic spectroscopy:

- origin of the energy transfer from the electromagnetic radiation to molecular electronic states

- types of electronic levels and electronic transitions

- solvatochromism

- UV circular dichroism

- study  of the protein structure by absorption electronic spectroscopy (principles, experimental methods)

- study  of the structure of nucleic acids by  absorption electronic spectroscopy (principles, experimental methods)


Photoluminescence electronic spectroscopy:

- radiative and radiation less decays from excited electronic states

- fluorescence and phosphorescence

- radiative and fluorescence lifetimes

- collisional quenching

- energy transfer through the space

  study  of the protein structure by photoluminescence spectroscopy (principles, experimental methods)

- study  of the structure of nucleic acids by photoluminescence spectroscopy (principles, experimental methods)

 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy applications in the determination of structure, dynamics, and interactions of biological macromolecules:

- Introduction to the NMR spectral parameters used in structural biology, namely the chemical shift, the J-coupling, nuclear Overhauser effects, and residual dipolar couplings.

- Resonance assignment, and NMR spectral parameters are their convertion into angle and distances between atoms

in a macromolecules.

-Relaxation phenomena and mapping the molecular interactions, information on the binding interface as well as the determination of kinetic and thermodynamic constants..

-NMR studies on Metalloproteins (proteins containing at least one metal ion) and paramagnetism based drug discovery.

 - Nucleic acids studied by NMR and their interaction with metallo drugs.

- In cell/In tissue NMR spectroscopy.


Suggested readings and bibliography


Reference material is available at the course website.

Suggested textbooks (all available from the teachers):

- H. Friebolin “Basic one- and two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy”, VCH, 1993

- Ivano Bertini, Kathleen S. McGreevy, Giacomo Parigi “NMR of biomolecules” Wiley 2012.

- DW. Claridge “High-resolution NMR techniques in Organic Chemistry”, Pergamon 1999 (Elsevier Science)

N.J. Turro, Modern Molecular Photochemistry, University Science Books, 1991

C.N.R. Rao, Ultra-Violet and Visible Spectroscopy, Butterworths, third edition, 1966

J.R. Lakowitz, Principles of fluorescence spectroscopy, Plenum, 2000 I.D. Campbell



The course will be delivered online with live lessons provided at the Moodle elearning platform at the following link 

Due to the COVID-19 sanitary emergency, the modality of course delivery could vary during the year. In any case, the "online" teaching will be guaranteed for the entire academic year.

Il corso sarà erogato in modalità telematica con lezioni in sincrono fruibili connettendosi alla piattaforma Moodle elearning al seguente link 


Le modalità di svolgimento dell'attività didattica potranno subire variazioni in base alle limitazioni imposte dalla crisi sanitaria in corso. In ogni caso è assicurata la modalità a distanza per tutto l'anno accademico

Last update: 30/09/2020 13:30
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