Subject Chemistry Biochemistry


Instructions: Write an essay to answer each of the questions below. You must provide sufficient biochemical knowledge and concepts to defend you position. You may use diagrams, figures, chemical reactions, calculations, tables, etc. as necessary to support your essay.

1. Researchers are working to develop biofuels to free us from dependence on fossil fuels. Based on what you know about cellulose, what do you predict are the major advantage and disadvantage of using cellulose-rich plant material as biofuel? (Hint: Focus on cellulose – how much energy in it and how easy to extract the energy out)
2. Ion channels are extremely efficient in transporting ions across the cell membrane at a high rate close to diffusion. How could the cell maintain its cellular contents at proper levels without loosing all its ions? Provide two or three possible mechanisms with examples and explanations. (Hint: Focus on ion channel – this question does not ask for different types of transport)
3. Cold-water fish, like salmon, have large amounts of “healthy fats”. Eating these fish could help lower triglyceride levels and cholesterol. What are the underlying biochemical principles of the availability and effects of the healthy fats? (Hint: How can unsaturated fatty acids be beneficial)
4. “Biological system is amazing”, a fellow student claims, “it can drive any thermodynamically unfavorable reaction forward, and does not need to follow the thermodynamic laws.” How would you respond to this statement? Give an example to explain the strategies that the biological system uses to drive a thermodynamically unfavorable reaction forward. Does this reaction in your example still follow the thermodynamic laws? Why or why not?
5. Trypanosoma brucei is the agent that causes African sleeping sickness in humans bitten by the tsetse fly. Glycolysis is unusual in this organism, providing an opportunity to create drugs that poison the parasite without harming humans. In T. brucei, the seven glycolytic enzymes converting glucose to 3-phosphoglycerate are localized in specialized peroxisome-like organelles called glycosome. One molecule of each glycerol and pyruvate are produced per molecule of glucose. The net ATP production is one molecule. Based on this information, compare and contrast the glycolysis pathways in T. brucei and other organisms (like human), and explain how the glycerol is produced and why only one net molecule of ATP is produced. What enzyme(s) do you think we can target to kill trypanosomes with minimum side effects on human. Rationalize your target(s). (Hint: How is glycerol produced and why only one ATP is generated in T. brucei)
6. The electron transfer chain in mitochondria is tightly associated with ATP synthesis, a process described in the proton motive force (PMF) theory. As any other theories, this process may or may not be actually happening in the metabolizing cells. Based on your knowledge of the theory, design one or a few related experiment to prove or disprove the PMF theory. Describe what experiment(s) you will need to perform and what outcomes you are looking for in order to prove or disprove the theory. (Hint: the textbook already described several historic experiments. Study how these experiments in the textbook had been done and what results were obtained and analyzed)

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3. Cold-water fish, like salmon, have large amounts of “healthy fats”. Eating these fish could help lower triglyceride levels and cholesterol. What are the underlying biochemical principles of the availability and effects of the healthy fats? (Hint: How can unsaturated fatty acids be beneficial)


The marine fishes such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout are healthier and tastier and also it is good for our health. These fish are full of omega-3 fatty acid, a kind of unsaturated fatty acids, and so called as fatty fish. Most other meat and mutton contain saturated fatty acid which is harmful for health and heart whereas unsaturated fatty acids are good for health and heart. There are three major classes of omega-3 fatty acids such as α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is converted sequentially from ALA to EPA and finally to DHA after eating omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are two important omega-3 fatty acids which also serve as the substrate for the lipid-derived modulators of cell signaling, inflammatory processes and gene expression. Other than these three, there are a number of other naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids present in nature. The most of the exogenous ALA animals received from the plant natural sources. The maximum amount of EPA and DHA is present in cold-water fishes like tuna, salmon and herring and animal get it from there.

There are a number of reports that long chain omega-3 fatty acids decrease plasma triglycerides. These triglycerides when present in high enough amount in the blood, it interacts with the on the components of the blood and change the conformation of the reacting particles and finally their function. Triglyceride also increases the production of most dangerous and most oxidisable Low density lipoproteins. Normally chylomicron and very low density lipoprotein contains highest quantity of triglyceride. Intake of 3.4gm/day for one-month omega-3 fatty acid reduced the blood triglyceride by 25-50%....

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