Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course the student should have acquired sufficient knowledge and information to understand, critically discuss and practically apply the molecular basis of the mechanisms of transmission of genetic information.
The student must have basic knowledge of the organic chemistry of the main biological molecules. Basic knowledge of the biology of the eukaryotic cell.
Course contents summary
The course aims to provide a basic knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of the transmission of genetic information. After a brief hystorical introduction on the Mendelian lows of genetic inheritance transmission, up to the discovery of DNA as the "transforming principle", the course will introduce the modern knowledge on DNA and RNA chemistry and their structure. Then will be delivered the concepts of DNA replication, RNA transcription and translation: the central mechanisms of the transmission of the genetic information. Then will be delivered the concepts of DNA recombination, mutation repair mechanisms. The last part of the course will describe the main techniques used for DNA manipulation with examples of applications in research, clinical medicine and forensic medicine.
From Darwin to Mendel until the discovery of the transforming principle: the basis of genetic information.
The DNA composition and structure.
Organization of DNA in eukaryotic cell: histones, chromatin, chromosomes.
RNA: composition and structure.
Types of RNA
DNA replication: basic mechanisms, enzymes and regulation.
Damage and DNA mutations and repair mechanisms.
The RNA transcription in eukaryotes: mechanisms, enzymes and regulation.
Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes.
The RNA maturation
Elements of RNA interference.
From RNA to proteins: mechanisms and enzymes of mRNA translation. The genetic code.
Protein synthesis, maturation and post-translational modification.
Protein degradation and protein turnover.
Recombinant DNA and biotechnology:
Polymerase chain reaction, restriction endonucleases, restriction maps and DNA sequencing,
Recombinant DNA, cloning and selection of clones.
Expression vectors and fusion proteins.
Applications of recombinant DNA technology.
Genomics, proteomics and microarrays
Nelson DL, Cox MM: I principi di Biochimica di Lehninger, Zanichelli, Bologna.
Biologia molecolare del gene. James D. Watson et al. settima ed. Zanichelli
Lectures involving the use of presentations and images when possible multimedia movies to illustrate the molecular approach to the matter.
Assessment methods and criteria
Final oral test on all the subjects of the programme.
The interview begins with a wideranging question, which aims to assess the student's ability to organise a coherent and timely speech on the topics under examination. During the interview, the teacher will ask additional, more specific questions, aimed at assessing the capacity of reasoning and the degree of competence achieved by the student. Importance will also be given to the property of language and the ability to correctly allocate cause-effect relationships between two interdependent phenomena.