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Energy is required and transformed in biological systems

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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Learning Framework

Society Learning Goals Articles Sample Learning Objectives
Energy is required and transformed in biological systems
What is the nature of biological energy?
  • Compare and contrast biologically relevant forms of energy (e.g. kinetic energy versus potential energy, energy stored in bonds versus potential energy of concentration gradients).
  • Identify and explain instances when energy is converted from one form to another.
  • Write a general chemical reaction and the corresponding mathematical expression that approximates its equilibrium constant (Keq).
  • Explain the relationship between equilibrium constants and reaction rate constants
  • Apply knowledge of basic chemical thermodynamics to biologically catalyzed systems.
  • Account for energy changes in the intermediate steps that define a biological process and predict the spontaneity of the overall process or an intermediate step.
  • Explain the properties of biomolecules with high-energy transfer potential that make them suitable as energy currency.
How do enzymes catalyze biological reactions?
  • Identify the factors contributing to the activation energy of a reaction.
  • Explain transition state stabilization.
  • Calculate the rate enhancement of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction.
  • Explain what a substrate is in terms of being a reactant.
  • Differentiate between the activation energy, the free energy and standard free energy of a reaction.
  • Use kinetic parameters to compare enzymes.
  • Distinguish the different forms of catalytic inhibition and explain how and why they differ.
  • Quantitatively model how catalyzed reactions occur and calculate kinetic parameters of enzymes from experimental data.
  • Explain how catalytic parameters vary as one varies substrate or enzyme concentration.
  • Interpret the physical meaning of various kinetic parameters and describe the underlying assumptions and conditions (such as steady state or equilibrium) on which different parameters depend
How is energy of chemical processes coupled in metabolic pathways?
  • Discuss the concept of Gibbs free energy and how to apply it to chemical transformations
  • Explain how endergonic and exergonic pathways can be coupled and how this applies to metabolism.
  • Calculate the overall ΔG for a coupled reaction given the ΔG values for the component reactions.
  • Explain the simplifying assumptions made in biochemistry that are consistent with physiological conditions and make "biochemical standard conditions" (steady state) different from the standard conditions (equilibrium conditions) normally referred to in chemistry.
  • Predict how perturbing a system affects the actual free energy (both mathematically and conceptually).
  • Explain evolutionary conservation of key metabolic pathways.
  • Explain differences in energy use and production in different cells and different biological systems.
  • Explain the role of gene duplication in the evolution of energy production and utilization by different organisms.


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