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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biochemistry

Undergraduate Course: Membrane Biology (BICH10009)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryAbout a third of an organism┐s genes encode membrane proteins or enzymes involved in the biochemistry of membrane lipids, reflecting the fundamental importance of membranes in every living cell. Membranes serve to compartmentalise cell functions by isolating different biochemical processes, but membranes and lipids also function in cell signalling and regulation. Though much has been learned about biochemical pathways involved in membrane biogenesis, details of how organelle membranes assemble and achieve particular shapes and compositions remain elusive. The significant percentage of the genome associated with membrane biology implies likewise that we have only viewed the tip of the iceberg with regard to regulatory functions of lipids.

The Membrane Biology module begins with a general overview of the breadth of membranes and associated proteins followed by allocation of the projects for the In Course Assessment (ICA; see below). Most course lectures will combine textbook-style information with a description of methods used to gain that information. Using a combination of biochemical and cell biological approaches, we then explore emerging structures and mechanisms, including proteins involved in fusion and fission membrane interactions of viruses and the cell┐s own endocytic and exocytic processes. Lipid modifications, membrane diffusion, and evolution of membrane bending mechanisms will also be discussed.

The module also includes one Research Talk and current paper awareness (CPA) sessions (titles to be announced). The ICA will take place in the middle of November. Each student will give a 5 minute oral presentation on diseases associated with biological lipids and membranes followed by 5 minutes for a question and answer/ discussion. The ability to answer questions in the discussion will be as important as the presentation for the mark, and active participation in the discussion of others┐ presentations will also form part of the assessment. The ICA will be worth 20% of the course total.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Structures and Functions of Proteins 3 (BILG09015) OR Molecular Cell Biology 3 (BILG09001)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Lab Coates, Notepads, Marker Pens
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Other Study Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 74 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Exam
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Membrane Biology2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Relate the diverse range of lipid functions from cellular compartmentalisation to signalling in context of lipid biochemistry.
  2. Understand the interface of lipid rafts with signalling mechanisms and how they are disrupted in human disease.
  3. Be able to interpret experiments gauging transmembrane protein structure and function and properties of channel proteins.
  4. Develop scientific presentation skills from the literature assessment exercise along with an understanding of experimental techniques and disease mechanisms.
  5. Appreciate how lipids and proteins interface to achieve membrane fusion for exchange of materials between cells e.g. exocytosis, endocytosis, synaptic transmission.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Eric Schirmer
Tel: (0131 6)50 7090
Course secretaryMrs Claire Black
Tel: (0131 6)50 8637
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