autumn 2019
KJE-8705 BIOCAT - Enzyme mechanisms - 4 ECTS

Application deadline

Registration deadline for PhD students at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway: September 1st  Application deadline for external applicants: June 1st 

Type of course

Theoretical and practical subject. The course is available as a singular or elective course independent of study program, also to exchange students. The course is offered as a national course through the national PhD-school, BioCat ( The course is offered on condition that a minimum number of students register for the course. Maximum number of students is 15.

Admission requirements

To take PhD courses you need to have at least a master's degree or equivalent.

In addition the following knowledge is recommended: Students should have a basic knowledge about protein structure and composition (amino acid types) and a basic knowledge in organic chemistry (fundamental concepts such as acid, base, covalent bond), alongside basic ability to read chemical structures (single/double bonds, etc).

PhD students at UiT The Arctic University of Norway register for the course through StudentWeb .  External applicants apply for admission through SøknadsWeb. 

All external applicants have to attach a confirmation of their status as a PhD student from their home institution. Students who hold a Master of Science degree, but are not yet enrolled as a PhD-student have to attach a copy of their master's degree diploma. These students are also required to pay the semester fee. More information regarding PhD courses at the Faculty of Science and Technology is found here (

Course content

This course will focus on enzymatic mechanisms and the chemistry involved: typical amino acids in enzymatic mechanisms and the type of chemistry they catalyze. Fundamental chemical steps involved in enzymatic mechanisms will be discussed (e.g. nucleophilic attack, proton transfer etc), alongside basic concepts such as "transition state stabilization". Students will become familiar with:

  • Types of enzyme classes (hydrolases, transferases, etc.).
  • Types of reaction mechanisms (addition, elimination, isomerisation, etc.)
  • Types of chemical steps in enzymatic reactions (nucleophilic attack, acid/base catalysis, ect).

Main focus will be on understanding how certain types of amino acids and their placement can promote chemical reactions. Simple concepts of thermodynamics (barrier, reaction energy) will be discussed briefly. There will be a computational part where students will use a (free) software to look at the active sites of selected enzymes and see how the catalytic residues are placed in 3D, illustrating how placement is important for efficient catalysis. The course will contain several case studies of relevant enzyme types. At the end of the course, the students will conduct a literature study and write an assignment on an enzyme of choice. 

Objectives of the course

The candidate..


  • Has detailed knowledge about chemical strategies in enzymatic catalysis
  • Has an understanding of which amino acids typically are involved in enzymatic catalysis and how they operate
  • Has a fundamental understanding of the states enzymatic reaction mechanisms proceed through (reactants, intermediates, transition states)
  • Has a fundamental understanding of how enzymes lower reaction barriers through stabilization of relevant intermediate steps
  • Has basic knowledge about computer techniques for visualizing enzyme structures


  • Can identify amino acids in an enzymatic active site that might be relevant for catalysing the chemical steps involved in a given reaction
  • Can relate different enzyme classes (e.g. lipases, proteases, transferase) to the type of chemistry they catalyze
  • Can explain the chemical transformations that a substrate is undergoing in a reaction mechanism
  • Is able to visualize enzymatic structures employing a computational software

General competence

  • Understands the general chemical principles involved in enzymatic catalysis
  • Has the ability to read and understand in general terms, research papers where enzymatic mechanisms are discussed.

Language of instruction and examination

The language of instruction and examination is English and all of the syllabus material is in English. 

Teaching methods

The course is given intensively over 1 week, followed by own project work. The course will involve lectures based on the text book, seminars with relevant exercises and computer classes for visualizing enzymatic active sites. 


Oral exam. Pass/fail evaluation 

Coursework requirements:

  • Minimum 80% attendance
  • Approved project work 

Error rendering component

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 4
  • Course code: KJE-8705
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet