BSc Biotechnology / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Dynamic Cell

Unit code BIOL21121
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

The Dynamic Cell provides an integrated approach to the understanding of the biology of the cell, from understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin cellular processes through to how such processes allow cells to function in their physiological context (ie. in tissues and during development). You will learn how and why cells move and how they interact with and adhere to each other. You will also learn about the roles of important structures within cells.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
From Molecules to Cells BIOL10232 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
BIOL21121 Pre & Co-requisites are BIOL10232

BIOL21121 Pre & Co-requisites are BIOL10232

Aims

To provide an integrated approach to the understanding of the biology of the cell, from understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin cellular processes through to how such processes allow cells to function in their physiological context (ie. in tissues and during development). To introduce both ‘classical’ and leading edge experimental approaches to cell biology research. To provide a good grasp of cell biology to those Biological Scientists who will not continue in this area.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Understand how cells are able to move
  • Understand how cell motility can be directed and organized to allow single cells, small groups and whole fields of cells to migrate
  • Appreciate how cells interact with other cells and the extracellular matrix allowing formation and maintenance of tissues
  • Understand the spatial organization within the cell and how cellular asymmetry and polarity can be established and maintained and why this can be important for cell function
  • Understand homeostatic mechanisms that allow cells to adapt to changes in development and cellular physiology

Syllabus

Cell movement: Mechanisms and regulation of cell migration: the importance of actin polymerisation. Role of the small GTPases Rho, Rac and Cdc42. Importance of assembly and disassembly of focal adhesions.

Directing cell motility: Sensing of a chemical gradient by single cells, signalling cascades regulating asymmetric membrane and cytoskeletal organisation. Group migration: effects of scale (distance, cell number & dimension) on cell movement, signal relays & interplay between adhesion & movement. Sheet migration: movement of whole tissues during embryogenesis and wound healing.

Cell adhesion: Tight junctions, desmosomes, adherens junctions, gap junctions, hemidesmosomes. Roles and composition.

Cell polarity: Establishment and function of apical-basolateral and planar polarity in epithelia, role in formation of neural tube. Spindle positioning in symmetric and asymmetric division. Role of cytoskeletal elements, motors and Par proteins.

Tissue homeostasis: Turnover and maintenance of cells within tissues: adhesion, cell polarity stem cells and apoptosis.

Cellular asymmetry and homeostasis: Spatial organization and movement within cells: mRNA localisation, nuclear-cytoplasmic transport, GTPases as spatial regulators. Regulation of organelles: unfolded protein response and plasma cell development.

e-Learning Activity

Five scenario-based learning modules introducing students in a guided manner to primary literature associated with the lecture material. Developing skills in interpreting different types of data, importance of controls etc. using examples from classic papers.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
eLearning exercises develop analytical skills involved in experimental design and data interpretation.
Problem solving
eLearning exercises also develop problem-solving skills.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

1.5 hour written examination composed of short answers and 1 essay question (90%); three problem based e-learning activities (10%).

Feedback methods

End-of semester formative mini-exam, two formative problem based e-learning activities, online discussion forum, post-exam clinic.

Recommended reading

•       Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K & Walter P (2008) Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th edition). Garland Science. Chapters 12, 16 & 19.

•       Lodish H, Berk A, Kaiser C, Krieger M, Scott M, Bretscher A, Ploegh H & Matsudaira P (2008) Molecular Cell Biology (6th edition). W. H. Freeman. Chapters 13, 17 & 19.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Thomas Millard Unit coordinator

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