Submitted by Hilary Eppley / DePauw University on Sun, 07/20/2008 - 21:31
As I've stated in another post, we have this odd first semester course that is a hybrid between a sophomore descriptive inorganic chemistry course and general chemistry. Since this course is the ONLY inorganic course that our biochemistry majors are exposed to, I want to give them a flavor of why inorganic chemistry is important to their field. Some of the topics that I have typically taught with bioinorganic applications include: acidity of metal ions and bioavailability, HSAB, types of ligands and the chelate effect, and hemoglobin as a case study in coordination chemistry. I've sometimes done some redox applications as well. Anyone have any particularly fun bioinorganic chemistry applications that are accessible to approximately a sophomore level course (perhaps with an appropriate article for the students to read)? --Hilary
Nancy Williams / Scripps College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College

I don't really. My own course is sadly lacking in bioinorganic. There is one thing that I did once that has bioinorganic implications. I discussed the Taube inner/outer sphere experiment and talked about Marcus theory on a veeeerry basic level, and then start a discussion about what would happen to reduction potential if you could artificially set the ligands at a rigid distance from the metal.

They got that if you have ligands held at "iron III" distances on an iron II, then the iron will be unusually easy to oxidize, and vice versa.

I then jumped to talking about the electron transport chain, and how there's so much energy involved, that the body needs to break that energy up into small, usable steps.

 I then showed them the reduction potentials of the various iron enzymes in the chain-they drop in small, manageable steps, yet they are mostly iron II/III couples. They then made the jump to the idea that it's by enclosing those irons in different chelate environments that you get those different potentials.

It was kind of neat. The reason I didn't repeat it was that I had twinging doubts as to whether it was true. Any bioinorganicers who can tell me whether this is crazy talk, or whether this is basically right?

Sat, 07/26/2008 - 16:37 Permalink
Kurt Birdwhistell / Loyola University New Orleans

I do include some HSAB examples.  Wulfsberg's small book "principles of descriptive inorganic book" has some very nice examples of HSAB applied to bioinorganic systems.

Chelation ,heavy metal poisoning, etc. 


Sun, 07/27/2008 - 22:19 Permalink