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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Molecular Cell Biology 3 (BILG09001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryCellular communication and signal transduction; second messengers; membrane trafficking and protein sorting in intracellular pathways; endocytosis and exocytosis; organelle biogenesis; cytoskeleton and its role in cellular dynamics and statics; contractility and cell movement; mitosis, the cell cycle and its control; regulation of cell proliferation; nuclear domains.
Course description The individual living cell is the fundamental unit of life. Every cell is like a small city, with specialised structures and signals that work together to allow a cell to survive, move, reproduce, and communicate with its environment. Understanding these behaviors, their mechanisms, and their coordination is the goal of cell biology as a scientific discipline. In the 21st century, the structure and function of eukaryotic cells are investigated primarily at the molecular level, through a combination of biochemical, molecular-genetic and immunological methods. These approaches have provided insights into how complex processes such as cell division, differentiation, movement and cell-cell interactions take place.

MCB3 takes as its starting point the material covered in several 2nd-year (and first-semester 3rd-year courses) and applies that knowledge to a detailed study of several major topics in molecular cell biology. The course will emphasise the experimental designs and techniques used to dissect and analyse these processes, as well as looking at current ideas as to how the processes take place.

The lecture course covers:
(1) Cytoskeleton and cell dynamics - filamentous proteins; cytoplasmic motors; vesicle movement; cytoskeleton and mitosis.
(2) Cellular communications and signal transduction - plasma membrane receptors and their regulation; second messengers; G-proteins; protein phosphorylation.
(3) Cell cycle and its control - cell cycle mutants and "start"; G2-mitosis control; cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases; periodic gene expression; growth factors, cell cycle and cell proliferation.
(4) Membrane traffic and protein sorting - movement of proteins through vesicular compartments; molecular chaperones; mitochondrial and nuclear import; endocytosis and exocytosis; protein turnover.
(5) Organisation of the nucleus - chromatin; chromosome scaffold; condensation; centromeres; location of genes in nuclear compartments; dissecting the nucleolus.
(6) "Tales from the Lab" - interactive lectures in which we confront research questions from our own laboratories, how we address them experimentally, and how we interpret results.

These topics will also be discussed in small groups in structured tutorials. There are four short web-based projects: to analyse time-lapse videos; to use bioinformatics databases; to analyse genetic data; and to model oscillatory behaviour in cell the cell cycle. There will be one extended laboratory session (analysis of tyrosine phosphorylation in caveolae-like domains/lipid rafts), which develops skills in experimental design and data analysis. Assessment consists of two short talks and abstracts, one essay, one mini-exam and a degree exam.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: The Dynamic Cell 2 (BILG08009) AND Genes and Gene Action 2 (BILG08003) AND
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Cells to Organisms 2 (BIME08011) AND Microorganisms, Infection and Immunity 2 (BIME08012)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Structures and Functions of Proteins 3 (BILG09015)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Students should provide note book and marker pen. Lab coats are provided.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 26, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 16, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 143 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 55 %, Coursework 26 %, Practical Exam 19 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Two types of in-course assessment (essay and student presentations), plus a 2-hour in-course (ICA) test, and a 2-hour degree exam.
Feedback Formative verbal and/or written feedback given for student presentations, online- and group-projects, lab practical, and interactive lecture block. Written and audio/video feedback given for essay. Feedback is also provided via an active Learn Discussion Board.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the current state of knowledge in the subject areas covered by the lectures and tutorials.
  2. Understand the experimental techniques and evidence upon which this knowledge is based.
  3. Apply your understanding to a novel problem, in the form of a well-reasoned essay in which you propose hypotheses to explain a new cell-biological phenomenon and suggest/design experiments to test your hypotheses.
  4. Analyse experimental data relating to: cell motility in vivo; proteins identified by immunoprecipitation and database searching; cell-cycle mutations; simulations of levels of regulatory proteins may oscillate in order to drive the cell cycle.
  5. Practical: understand how differential detergent-solubility and relative buoyant density can be used to isolate specialised membrane subdomains from a tissue homogenate; demonstrate enrichment for specific membrane components and associated mechanisms within a defined membrane compartment using assays for cholesterol and total protein; detect tyrosine kinase activity associated with components of membrane fractions using in vitro kinase assays followed by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; and carry out Western blotting with appropriate antibodies and detection system.
Reading List
Textbook: Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th or 6th ed.), or Lodish et al., Molecular Cell Biology (6th or 7th ed.)

Other reading in the primary or secondary research literature, as assigned/recommended by lecturers.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The University has identified a set of four clusters of skills and abilities (see headings below) that we would like students to develop throughout their degree programme to strengthen your attitude towards lifelong learning and personal development, as well as future employability. The graduate attributes we hope to develop within Molecular Cell Biology 3 are indicated below.

Research and Enquiry
The course aims to increase your understanding of the general subject area and also obtain specific skills as outlined in the course Aims and Objectives. The knowledge base of the course and the development of research and technical skills will be of benefit to you in completing your degree and beyond. The course will develop research and problem-solving capabilities through the Lab Practical and Web-based projects and through the Course Essay.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
To meet the objectives and challenges of the course, we encourage students both to work independently and also to discuss and debate with other students to strengthen your views as they develop. By reading textbooks and research papers you will expand your knowledge of the topics covered in the lectures, and this will allow you to broaden your own personal scientific interests outside of the specific subjects in the course. In writing the Course Essay you will explore a topic in detail, evaluate what you have read in a critical way and provide your own approach to investigating and solving a biological problem.

Through discussion and collaboration with students in the tutorials, Lab Practical and Mitotic Oscillator project you will be able to communicate your views and ideas and to learn from your peers. Preparing for your presentations at tutorials will help you to develop effective communication skills. You are also encouraged to ask questions from your lecturers, practical demonstrators and tutors to expand your knowledge and clear up any misinterpretations you might have. There is also a course Discussion Board on Learn which can be used to obtain feedback and to discuss various aspects of the course.

Personal Effectiveness
Throughout your degree programme you will learn transferable skills that will benefit you not only across the courses you are enrolled in but in future employment and further study. In this course, as in others, time management is an important skill you will learn as you must develop ways to organise your work and meet deadlines. Writing a well-reasoned essay will help you to organize your thoughts succinctly and effectively. Group work in the Lab Practical and the Mitotic Oscillator project is also an important transferable skill. By interacting with fellow students you will become aware of your own skills and talents (and your possible limitations) and appreciate those of others.
Additional Class Delivery Information Tu, F, 0900-1230 - includes a combination of lectures, practicals and tutorials.
Course organiserProf Ken Sawin
Tel: (0131 6)50 7064
Course secretaryDr Edward Dewhirst
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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