CHEM203: Bioinorganic Chemistry

Course Syllabus for "CHEM203: Bioinorganic Chemistry"

This course will teach you the important role that metal ions play in key biological processes.  You will learn that many biological functions are performed at the cellular level by metal ions that are incorporated into the activation sites of proteins and enzymes.  For example, when oxygen is transported through blood in the human body, it is bound to iron ions that are incorporated into the hemoglobin protein.  In order to function properly, these iron ions must be high-spin and in their +2 oxidation state.  As you progress through this course, you will learn about these and other requirements and mechanisms that must be present in order to facilitate critical biological functions. You will begin this course by reviewing the basic principles of inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology.  Following a brief overview of the spectroscopy methods that scientists use in the study of metals that contain protein, you will explore the structures of the most relevant metal centers in biological molecules, focusing in particular on non-redox enzymes, electron-transfer copper-based and iron-based proteins, nitrogen-fixation proteins, nitrification and denitrification proteins, and oxygen-transporting proteins. This course will help you to recognize the importance of inorganic molecules in supporting organic biological systems.  As you progress through this course, you not only will gain an understanding of some very complex macromolecules that rely on metal centers; you also will gain insight into recent scientific developments that utilize key metal ions for breakthrough medical purposes.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in the basic principles of inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology that are necessary to approach the field of bioinorganic chemistry.
  • Identify the appropriate analytical techniques that are useful in characterizing transition-metal complexes in biological molecules.
  • Describe the different processes involved in the transport and storage of metal ions.
  • Describe the role of metal ions that are involved in electron-transfer reactions in biological systems. 
  • Describe the most common metal centers for electron-transfer reactions—those based on copper and iron ions. 
  • Summarize the role of metal centers in the enzymes that are involved in the nitrogen cycle.
  • Describe how oxygen is transported through the human body and transferred to each biological entity that requires it; identify which metal centers perform these tasks.
  • Describe the different metal-activation sites in enzymes that are involved in the incorporation of oxygen atoms into bio-organic molecules.
  • Describe the functions of metals in plant- and algal-based systems.
  • List some of the historic and current medical applications of metal ions. 

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:
√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability and permission to install plug-ins and/or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft Office files and documents (.doc, .docx, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have successfully completed all Pre-Requisitesfor Saylor's Chemistry discipline (CHEM001, CHEM002, CHEM003, and CHEM004), or their equivalents.

√    Have successfully completed Saylor's General Chemistry I and II (CHEM101 and CHEM102) from The Core Program of Saylor's Chemistry discipline (or their equivalents).

√    In addition, have successfully completed the following Saylor courses (or their equivalents): CHEM107: Inorganic Chemistry, CHEM108: Analytical Chemistry, and CHEM109: Biochemistry.

Course Information

Welcome to CHEM203, Bioinorganic Chemistry.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.
Primary Resources: This course uses a range of different free, online educational materials, including an online textbook, journal articles, and course lecture notes.  The primary resources used in this course are:

Due to the frequency with which the online textbook Bioinorganic Chemistry, listed above, is used as a resource in this course, you may wish to download the entire textbook PDF and save it to your desktop or a folder on your personal computer for use as a quick reference as needed.
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned readings and materials.  In addition, you will need to successfully pass the Final Exam with a score of 70% or higher.
Please note that you will receive an official grade only on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to complete and review all the assigned materials in this course.  It is therefore recommended that you take thorough notes as you work through each assignment.
Your score on the Final Exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the Final Exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of approximately 75 hours to complete.  Each unit of this course includes time advisories that list the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit and assignment.  It may be useful for you to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then set goals for yourself.  For example, unit 1 should take you approximately 9.5 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 (estimated at 2.5 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.4 (estimated at 6 hours) on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and so on.  Once you have worked through all the course materials, be sure to factor in significant additional time for reviewing your readings and notes before you attempt to take the Final Exam.