spring 2018

KJE-3201 Bioinorganic Chemistry - 10 ECTS

Sist endret: 29.01.2019

The course is provided by

Faculty of Science and Technology


Tromsø |

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

Theoretical subject. The course is available as an elective independent of study program, and also to exchange students. The course is offered on condition that there is a minimum number of registered students.

Admission requirements

Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) in Chemistry or equivalent. A thorough knowledge of elementary university-level organic and inorganic chemistry, corresponding to a grade of C or better in KJE-1002 and KJE-1004, will be assumed, as will a modest exposure to elementary biochemistry and NMR spectroscopy. A high level of fluency with basic concepts of organic and inorganic structure and bonding, in particular elementary ligand field theory, and with organic reaction mechanisms will be assumed.

Local admission, application code 9371 - singular courses at Master's level.  

Course content

The course will present a mechanistic perspective of the role of metals and metalloids in biology. After a short introduction to metal ion storage, transport, and homeostasis, the course will progress to a detailed discussion of redox metalloenzymes, particularly dioxygen metabolism. Early discussions will focus on dioxygen transport (myoglobin, hemoglobin, hemerythrin, hemocyanin), superoxide metabolism (superoxide dismutase and superoxide reductase), enzymes utilizing peroxide (peroxidases and catalases), dioxygen-activating enzymes (monooxygenases and dioxygenases), and cytochrome P450. Subsequent topics for discussion will include selected redox cofactors, particularly those present in various copper proteins, cytochromes b and c, iron-sulfur clusters, cobalamins, and molybdenum cofactors. Particular emphasis will be placed throughout on electronic-structural and mechanistic insights afforded by synthetic model systems. The course will conclude with a discussion of special topics, which will vary from year to year, depending on the interests of course participants and on recent happenings in the field. Examples of such topics include NO biology, arsenic toxicity, metallodrugs such as platinum anticancer drugs and technetium radiopharmaceuticals, aspects of the origin of life, etc.

Recommended prerequisites

KJE-1001 Introduction to chemistry and the chemistry of biology

Objectives of the course

The student should acquire the following knowledge, skills and competencies.



  • A broad knowledge of metalloprotein active sites and metal-containing cofactors and of metal-nucleic-acid interactions, as outlined in a standard textbook;
  • A detailed mechanistic knowledge of iron- and copper-containing enzymes involved in dioxygen metabolism;
  • A detailed mechanistic knowledge of specialized cofactors including iron-sulfur clusters, cobalamin, and molybdopterin;
  • Geometric and electronic-structural aspects of metal-NO interactions;
  • Aspects of metals in medicine, such as platinum anticancer drugs and technetium radiopharmaceuticals;
  • Aspects of environmental bioinorganic chemistry, such as arsenic toxicity



  • Have a convincing command of the basic facts of bioinorganic chemistry, particularly the major classes of metalloenzymes,
  • Ability to describe and discuss the geometric and electronic structures of bioinorganic systems in terms of ligand field theory;
  • Above all, to be able to propose and test mechanistic hypotheses for a wide range of metalloenzymes and model systems.


General competencies

  • To "think on one's feet" about the electronic structures and mechanisms of metalloenzymes and their synthetic models;
  • To be able to read the current bioinorganic literature and appreciate it from a mechanistic perspective.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is English and course material will be in English.

Teaching methods

Formal lectures: 24 h; Group discussions: 12 h; self-study of assigned reading material, including book chapters and review articles.


Grades based on a final, oral examination. Lettergrades (A-F). Admission to the examination requires that the student has passed a written report/literature review.


Course overlap

K-321 Bioinorganic chemistry 10 stp
KJE-8201 Bioinorganic chemistry 10 stp

Recommended reading/syllabus

(a) Biological Inorganic Chemistry: Structure and Reactivity, edited by I. Bertini, H. B. Gray, E. I. Stiefel, and J. S. Valentina, University Science Books, Mill Valley, CA, 2006. ISBN 978-1-891389-43-6.

(b) Assigned readings from the current literature