Protein Structure and Function

Course content

Protein science is central in the fundamental understanding of how organisms function, and in the application of proteins in medicine and biotechnology. The function of proteins is carried out through their three-dimensional structure and dynamics. The aim of this course is to guide students from Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and related disciplines, who already have a basic knowledge of protein chemistry, through more advanced aspects of protein science based on critical reading of original literature.

The course will cover several aspects of the relationship between protein structure and function by going into depths into several case studies primarily through reading of original literature. Aspects of structure and function of enzymes (particularly proteases and carbohydrate-active enzymes), transcription factors, antibodies, intrinsically unfolded proteins and designed proteins will be covered, with other topics varying from year to year. A short practical introduction to protein sequence and structure databases and molecular graphics programs will be given as part of the course.


MSc Programme in Chemistry

MSc Programme in Nanoscience

Learning outcome


- The student must be able to gather and critically evaluate relevant information on specific aspects of protein structure and function from the scientific literature and databases

-The student must be able to relevantly integrate the gathered information in discussion of protein chemistry, structure and function in the broader context of several disciplines, for example medicine and biotechnology


The students must be able to:

- independently read and evaluate original research articles in english and critically describe how the experiments give information on the relationship between protein structure and function.

- formulate themselves precisely both orally and in writing in english when discussing protein structure and function.

- search for relevant information in protein sequence and structure databases

- illustrate important points related to a protein's structure and function by preparing figures using a molecular graphics program

- recognize and describe different types of structures and functional mechanisms for proteins.


The student must demonstrate to have acquired knowledge on the structure and functions of the specific proteins covered in the course, as well as the general mechanisms by which protein structure dictates its function, e.g. catalysis and molecular recognition

As well as some introductory lectures by the main teachers, the main form of the course will be a study group with compulsory attendance, with one-two students introducing the articles each time followed by discussion. Some topics will be set by the teachers, but the students are encouraged to also suggest additional topics/articles. Active participation will be expected from the non-presenting students. Depending on the number of students, invited lectures by experts in the field maybe integrated in the course.

Most of the curriculum consists of original literature (reviews and articles). Details will be found on Absalon. A textbook is also used: in 2014 this was  David Whitford (2005) ”Proteins structure and function” Wiley, but maybe subject to change. Please check on Absalon or with the responsible teacher before you buy the textbook.

The course is intended for students who already have a basic knowledge of protein chemistry, structure and function. This means the equivalent of at least 7.5 ECTS solely on protein chemistry structure and function (of course this could be from part of several different courses).

Both Chemistry and non-Chemistry students with an interest in proteins structure and function are welcome (e.g. from Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology). Bachelor students with sufficient background in protein chemistry are also welcome as long as this is allowed within their curriculum. The course may be of particular relevance for Medicinal Chemistry and Green and Sustainable Chemistry students.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 10 days
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Evaluation consists of a written home assignment based on original articles. The oral examination is based primarily on the written assignment and the original articles it is based on, but also on related topics covered in the course. The mark is based on an overall evaluation of both written and oral performance.
Only certain aids allowed

The student must take a copy of his written assignment and the articles it is based on to the exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See 'målbeskrivelser'

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 12
  • Colloquia
  • 20
  • Practical exercises
  • 3
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 127
  • English
  • 206