Learning outcomes of the course unit
ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.
Students are expected to acquire a good knowledge at the molecular level of some key cellular processes (mainly related to protein localization control and cellular signalling), and a familiarity with the main biochemical strategies allowing for their experimental study.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.
Through the guided analysis of key experiments, that allowed an understanding of cellular processes in molecular terms, students are expected to strengthen their competence in addressing the experimental study of novel processes at the biochemical level.
Students should have a solid background in Citology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Course contents summary
In cells, the concentration, location and activity of proteins are regulated in a precise and complex way. The course, which assumes good basic knowledge of the structure and function of proteins and of the organisation of eukaryotic cells, will consider the main mechanisms for regulating protein function in the cellular context. Special emphasis will be given to the experimental strategies used in the molecular analysis of cellular processes and to the structure and action mechanisms of the protein components involved.
The topics covered in the course can be divided as follows:
A) Localisation control
- Biosyntesis of lipid components of cellular membranes.
- Translocation, modification and folding of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum.
- Protein glycosylation.
- The secretory pathway.
- Protein sorting in mitochondria, chloroplasts and peroxysomes.
- Transport of macromolecules through the nuclear membrane.
- Control of protein localisation by means of lipid anchors.
B) Molecular switches
- Structure, function and versatility of cellular GTPases .
- GTPase regulators: GEFs (Guanine nucleotide exchangefactors) and GAPs (GTPase activating proteins).
- Heterotrimeric G protein and corresponding signalling pathways.
- Ras and the signalling small GTPases.
- Arf/Rab GTPase and control of vesicular traffic.
C) Control of protein stability
- Biochemistry of the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
- Roles of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in cell cycle control.
- Signalling pathways mediated by proteolysis.
Lodish et al., BIOLOGIA MOLECOLARE DELLA CELLULA, Zanichelli (2009), 3rd Italian edition, from 6th original edition; more updated, but only available in english: LODISH et al., MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY, 7th edition, W.H. Freeman publishers, 2013.
Voet-Voet-Pratt, FONDAMENTI DI BIOCHIMICA, 3a edizione, Zanichelli (2007).
Berg-Tymoczko-Stryer, BIOCHIMICA, 7a edizione, Zanichelli (2012)
Alberts et al., BIOLOGIA MOLECOLARE DELLA CELLULA, 5a edizione, Zanichelli (2009).
The course is based on classroom lectures that make extensive use of images and schemes. Usually, the different cellular processes and pathways are introduced starting from the analysis of biochemical studies that have contributed most to their comprehension.
Assessment methods and criteria
Evaluation of the expected achievements will be based on a written test followed, if necessary, by an optional oral test. The test is devised to evaluate both the biochemical knowledge of cellular processes illustrated during the course, and the ability to apply such a knowledge to addressing and solving experimental problems.