Chemistry 310 Spring 2018

Enzyme Mechanisms



Office Info: JSMC 363 e-mail "hanson" Please feel free to drop by, or for more certainty, make an appointment if you have any questions or problems.

Grading: Grades will be calculated based upon exam scores, several types of quizzes and a few writing assignments. There will be three 100 point midterm exams and a 200 point final. Details about how I grade are available at the Class Policies and Grading page. It is your responsibility to know the policies.

Assignments, Reading and Class Rhythm The basic rhythm or pattern to this class will be as follows:

  1. There will be specific readings and problems assigned for each day (assigned problems will not be collected or graded, but are critical to learning the material). It is essential that you do these tasks before coming to class. Detailed Daily Schedule
  2. Most weeks there will be a quiz. Quizzes will be of two types: electronic quizzes taken before class (via, and in-class quizzes. Electronic quizzes will mostly be in the first half of the semester. They will be available at least 24 hrs in advance and must be completed by 8 am the day of class. I will e-mail the class when electronic quizzes are posted.
  3. So do the reading and problems, take the electronic quiz and come to class prepared with your questions.
  4. In class we will answer your questions, introduce new material, and/or work in groups on study questions. It is important that you keep up!

We will spend about 1/2 of the course covering Chapter 1. This is a very short and terse chapter because the authors assume you have had a full year of organic chemistry. We will work it slowly, add in lots of handouts, and work lots of problems.

Digital Etiquette: Do not use your phone during class to send or read texts, catch up on e-mail, chat etc. Professors, and everyone around you, find it very distracting when you are using these items. If you cannot keep your eyes off of these devices, please skip class and study elsewhere. Don't kid yourself – you are not getting anything out of the class when you read or send a text every few minutes. The university does use our mobile devices to notify us in an emergency. If that happens, it should be obvious, since they will all buzz within a few seconds.

Other Important Stuff:

Course Background: The course title, Enzyme Mechanisms, sums things up. Mechanism is the chemist's word for how, and why, a reaction occurs in step-by-step detail. The reactions of interest in this course are the reactions of metabolism. So, we will study in step-by-step detail how and why various biologically important reactions occur. Students often wonder how this course compares to Chemistry 320, Organic Mechanisms and Synthesis. Here is a comparison of the two, which will give you a little perspective.

Chemistry 310: Enzyme Mechanisms
  • Basic principles of mechanisms
  • Specific mechanisms of biological relevance
  • Application of mechanisms to biological reactions involving:
    • carbohydrates
    • lipids
    • nucleic acids
    • proteins
    • natural products (secondary metabolites)
Chemistry 320: Organic Mechanisms & Synthesis
  • Basic principles of mechanisms
  • Specific mechanisms for a very wide range of organic reactions
  • Reactions of synthetic utility
  • Assembly of reactions into synthetic sequences (synthetic strategy)

How to Succeed: The most important skill in this class is drawing reasonable reaction mechanisms. Hence, you need to draw a lot of mechanisms and get feedback on them. Watching others draw mechanisms, and understanding how it is done is an important first step in learning the material. However, if that is all you do, you will fail every single exam even if you understand what you have seen. You must be able, on your own, to draw reasonable mechanisms with no input except what you have learned. The basic process of learning mechanisms is

  1. Observe mechanisms being drawn (watch others, read about them in the book).
  2. Digest and learn what you see/read, so that you fully understand it (relate it back to mechanistic principles, as well as other foundational chemical concepts, e.g. resonance - this is what we mean by a reasonable mechanism).
  3. Draw mechanisms yourself (by working problems, at which point you begin to realize that it's hard to do!).
  4. Receive feedback on your mechanism; refine your understanding, review foundational ideas as needed.
  5. Draw another mechanism! Repeat steps 3 and 4 many times until you are skilled and confident.

This material is not easy to learn. I will serve as your personal guide through the jungle of mechanisms. We'll do a lot of interactive stuff in class; expect to be asked questions in class on a regular basis, and expect to go to the board to draw something often. You should have a lot of questions as we go along. Please ask them!

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