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MSci Genetics / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Cell Membrane Structure & Function
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Membranes and their associated proteins have a key role in transferring information inside and between cells and transporting ions and solutes. You will learn about the structure, organisation and function of cellular membranes, as well as diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, that arise from defects in cell membrane function.
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|From Molecules to Cells||BIOL10232||Pre-Requisite||Recommended|
To provide an understanding of the structure, organisation and function of cellular membranes. Particular emphasis will be placed on membrane composition and organisation, and involvement of membranes and membrane proteins in ion and solute transport, signal transduction and vesicular transport. Diseases that arise from defects in these processes will be used to exemplify the importance of this topic to life science.
Students will have an understanding of:
- How the biochemical and biophysical properties of membranes constituents contribute to the structure and organisation of membranes
- Cell compartmentalisation and how proteins are transported between organelles.
- The principles and organisation of signal transduction pathways
- How ions and solutes are transported across membranes
Membrane Structure and Function
These lectures will describe the composition of biological membranes, and how the constituent lipids and proteins determine membrane identity and physical properties. How membrane domains are formed and the dynamic properties of membranes will also be covered.
Signalling From Membranes
The general principles of signalling will be introduced. The lectures will describe enzyme-linked receptors and G-protein-coupled receptors, and how membrane lipids act as signalling mediators. The mechanisms by which signalling is terminated and how membranes participate in organisation of signalling pathways will also be covered.
Membrane Transporters and Ion Channels
Membrane transport and transport proteins will be introduced. Active and passive transport, facilitated transport, and secondary active transport will be described. Appropriate examples will be used to illustrate the key points. Ion channel gating and channel permeability and selectivity will be covered, with examples of how defects in these processes leads to disease.
There will be an overview of the endomembrane system and membrane trafficking pathways. The lectures will describe the molecular machinery that is required for formation of membrane carriers, their movement within the cell, and how they fuse with target compartments to deliver their contents. Emphasis will be given to the mechanisms underlying these processes. The secretory and endocytic pathways and their role in health and disease will be covered.
• Discussion forum
• Problem questions with worked answers
- Analytical skills
- EPBL assignments where critical assessment of scientific data is required.
- Problem solving
- On-line short answer and problem-based questions that form part of coursework.
- Written communication
- Written problem questions that form part of coursework. Written examinations in January comprised of short answer and essay questions.
The unit will be assessed through a 2 hour written on-line examination (90%), comprising 5 short answer questions (50% of exam marks) and 1 essay (from a choice of 5, 50% of exam marks), and on-line coursework comprising 3 assessed on-line problem-based questions (10%).
- Post-exam clinic
- Feedback on problem-based questions built into assessment
• Alberts B, Heald, R, Johnson A, Lewis J, Morgan, D, Raff M, Roberts K & Walter P (2022) Molecular Biology of the Cell (7th edition). W.W. Norton & Company Ltd., chapters 9-13 and 15. (Recommended).
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.5|
|Independent study hours|
|Martin Lowe||Unit coordinator|