ELEMENTS OF BIOLOGY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
A foundation in genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology. Preparation for bio-information technology studies.
Course contents summary
o The components of living matter
o Macromolecules: chemical and biological aspects.
Nucleic acids and proteins as the archives of biological diversity.
o The cell
Cell membranes and membrane proteins.
Prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. The structural and functional organisation of the eukaryotic cells: organelles.
The nucleus: storage and transmission of genetic information.
Ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus: the biosynthesis and distribution of proteins.
Mitochondria and chloroplasts: energy transformation.
Chromosomes, the cell cycle, cell division.
Mitosis and meiosis
o Nucleic acids, information and inheritance
Mendel’s experiments and the laws regulating the transmission of genetic characters
Morgan’s experiments and gene mapping.
The structure and nomenclature of nitrogenous bases and nucleotides. The covalent skeleton of nucleic acids.
The double helix structure of DNA.
DNA denaturation, renaturation and hybridisation. The electrophoretic analysis of nucleic acids.
DNA replication: fundamental characteristics and chemical foundations. DNA polymerases and other replication proteins. Replication mechanisms.
DNA sequencing. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR). DNA recombination and repair (overview).
RNA: structure and functions. The DNA-dependent synthesis of RNA (transcription). RNA polymerase and promoters. Transcription factors. Modifications of RNA after transcription.
The genetic code. Protein synthesis.
Levels of regulation of gene expression.
The RNA-dependent synthesis of DNA (inverse transcriptase).
Genes and genomes. DNA organisation in viruses, bacteria and eukaryotes.
The twenty amino-acids present in proteins. The peptide bond.
The protein structural hierarchy: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure.
Denaturation and folding of polypeptide chains. Covalent protein modification: phosphorylation, glycosylation, proteolysis.
The relationship between protein structure and their function.
Membrane proteins, fibrous proteins, globular proteins.
o Enzymes, enzymatic catalysts and metabolism
Thermodynamic principles of enzymatic reactions
General characteristics and nomenclature of enzymes
Characteristics of enzymatic catalysis
Aerobic and anaerobic energetic metabolism
The energetic role of ATP and NADH
The citric acid cycle
The respiration chain
Purves, Sadawa, Orians, Heller. Elementi di Biologia e Genetica (second Italian edition), Zanichelli, Bologna, 2005.