2020 Biopolymer

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Academic unit or major
Undergraduate major in Chemical Science and Engineering
Sawada Toshiki 
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Course description and aims

This course enables student to acquire fundamental knowledge on structure, properties, and functions of biopolymers such as proteins, nucleic acids, and related substances, the physicochemical understanding of which are deepened by learning some related polymer science at the same time. Intra- and intermolecular interactions of biopolymers in aqueous systems (electrostatic, hydrogen-bonded, and van der Waals interactions, and hydrophobic effects) are first taken in the class to prepare a firm ground to understand the bio-polymeric system. As for the polymer science topics which are used as subsidiary matters, the higher-order structural formation of polypeptides is paired wit proteins, ordered assembly of polyelectrolytes with nucleic acids, hydrogel formation with polysaccharides, and membrane transport with lipids.
It has been mankind dream to mimic the excellent functional performance of biopolymers in vivo by synthetic polymer systems. Recently, it has been partly realized by development of “biomimetic” or “bioinspired” materials, nevertheless it is still extraordinarily challenging matter. In the course toward the relevant advances area of students who studied fundamental polymer science, they could obtain many valuables from the biopolymers. Students in this course should comprehend that the remarkable functionalities of biopolymers never emerge in vacuo but are effected via interactions with small molecules such water and lipids.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1) Explain variation and structure of components of proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides.
2) Explain how the intra- and intermolecular interactions are involved with the structure and functional performance of proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides.
3) Explain variation and structure of lipids and properties of bilayer membrane.
4) Explain variation and properties of enzymes and the reaction mechanisms.


electrostatic interaction, hydrogen bond, van der Waals interaction, hydrophobic effect, higher order structure, ordered assembly, hydrogel formation, Michaelis-Menten mechanism

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Each class is conducted by using relevant materials which are available from OCW-i. A 15 or 20 minutes exam and the explanation will be given at the middle of each class. At the beginning of the next class, further explanations may be added depending on the students’ understanding.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Interactions of biopolymers in an aqueous phase Explain the intermolecular interactions in an aqueous phase
Class 2 Amino acids and (poly)peptides Explain the relation between the amino acid structures and conformational structures of (poly)peptides in terms of the relevant interactions.
Class 3 Three-dimensional structures and functions of proteins Explain functional expression of proteins based on their three-dimensional structures
Class 4 Nucleic acids and their structural stabilization based on duplex formation Explain interactions contributed to stabilization of the duplex formation.
Class 5 Functional properties of polysaccharides based on their structural diversities and molecular assembly of lipids based on their amphophilic properties Explain how the structure and function of polysaccharides are derived from varieties of monosaccharides and the intermolecular interactions, and the variation and determination factors for the assembly of lipids.
Class 6 Enzymes -Molecular recognition-based selective chemical reactions- Explain the variation, the determinant factors for the assembly, Explain the variation of enzymes, the mechanisms of catalytic and inhibitory reactions, and polymerization mechanisms for biopolymers.and the membrane transport mechanisms.
Class 7 Final exercise and term-end test Total understanding of biopolymers on the basis of intermolecular interactions

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


John E. McMurry Organic Chemistry 8th edition ISBN-13: 978-0840054449 John E. McMurry Organic Chemistry 9th edition ISBN-13:

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Those reference materials are available at OCW-i.

Assessment criteria and methods

Students' knowledge on the fundamental structures and properties of biomolecules, and the relation with the various interactions are assessed. 15 minutes exams (20%) + final exam (80%)

Related courses

  • Every kinds of physical chemistry and polymer science

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

It is desirable that students have taken the following classes; Physical Chemistry I - III, Polymer Physics I - IV, Polymer Chemistry I -IV, Advanced Polymer Science I,II.

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