BSc Biochemistry / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Protein Sorting (L)

Unit code BIOL31411
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Eukaryotic cells are characterised by specialised sub-cellular compartments. This compartmental organisation demands that newly synthesised proteins are accurately and efficiently targeted to their appropriate sub-cellular locations. Compartmentalisation also ensures that unique post-translational modifications can occur to a subset of synthesised proteins. The aim of this unit is to examine the molecular mechanisms of protein sorting in eukaryotes, and will review recent data demonstrating that some of these processes are fundamental to all living cells. A substantial part of the course will involve discussion of recently published papers.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Cell Membrane Structure & Function BIOL21141 Pre-Requisite Recommended

Aims

Eukaryotic cells are characterised by specialised sub-cellular compartments. This compartmental organisation demands that newly synthesised proteins are accurately and efficiently targeted to their appropriate sub-cellular locations. Compartmentalisation also ensures that unique post-translational modifications can occur to a subset of synthesised proteins. The aim of this unit is to examine the molecular mechanisms of protein sorting in eukaryotes, and will review recent data demonstrating that some of these processes are fundamental to all living cells. A substantial part of the course will involve discussion of recently published papers.

Learning outcomes

Student will be able to:

  • explain the mechanisms which target proteins to a number of compartments (including the nucleus, mitochondria, plastid and the secretory pathway)
  • appraise the maturation of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum and their subsequent movement through the secretory pathway
  • explain the mechanisms of endocytosis and the regulatory role of lipid-mediated signals
  • critique the applications and limitations of specific experimental approaches (both classical and ‘cutting edge’) to dissect and understand the different mechanisms of protein sorting
  • demonstrate cognitive skills to analyse and critically interpret experimental data and primary papers relating to protein sorting

Syllabus

Protein targeting to the nucleus:

  • The nature of nuclear localisation signals and nuclear pores.
  • The role of soluble factors in nuclear import.

Protein targeting to mitochondria & plastids:

  • Mitochondrial & chloroplast targeting signals.
  • Sorting of proteins to specific compartments within mitochondria and plastids.

The secretory pathway:

  • Protein targeting to the endoplasmic reticulum.
  • Protein translocation into and across the ER membrane.
  • Post-translational modification and protein folding at the ER

Mechanisms of vesicular transport:

  • Formation of transport vesicles
  • Targeting and fusion of transport vesicles

The endocytic pathway:

  • Receptor-mediated endocytosis.
  • Ubiquitin-dependent receptor down-regulation

eLearning

There will be an ePBL exercise, complementary to the lecture material to further consolidate the course's experimental/problem-driven approach to the topic of protein sorting.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical interpretation of experimental data is a major focus of the unit, developed through the lecture material, primary paper discussion session and the problem-based exercise.
Oral communication
Students take part in an active discussion of a primary research paper
Problem solving
A problem-based exercise is a major part of the exam for this unit. This is discussed in the lectures and the students attempt several practice problems.
Written communication
Students undertake a mock written exam which is then marked and annotated.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 95%
Written assignment (inc essay) 5%

2 hour written examination (95%), including an essay answer from a choice of three questions and a data interpretation problem.

Course work short essay plan (5%).

Feedback methods

This will be via the discussion board, a mock exam comprising a data interpretation problem, which will be marked and annotated, feedback to ePBL exercise. Feedback on students' coursework essays will be provided prior to the written examination. There will be a post-exam feedback clinic.

Recommended reading

Reference lists of primary and review articles will be given in lectures.

Recommended Reading

  1. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K & Walter P, Molecular Biology of the Cell (6th edition), Garland Science/WW Norton, 2015, Recommended

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Martin Pool Unit coordinator

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