Molecular Biology (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Stefano Capaldi
Stefano Capaldi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Mar 4, 2019 al Jun 14, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Molecular Biology

The aim of this course is to provide a detailed description at the molecular level of the main issues regarding the mechanisms involved in transmission, variation and expression of the information contained in the genome of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The main topics of the course will focus on a detailed description of the processes of gene transcription and translation and those related to DNA replication and mutagenesis.

The students will acquire knowledge of the fundamental structures of biological systems in a molecular and cellular perspective and of the mechanisms inherent to the transmission, manipulation and expression of the information contained in the genome of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

The students will be able to understand the genetic bases of life and to apply the acquired knowledge to use and possibly develop bioinformatics tools for the investigation of structure-function relationships of biological macromolecules and the regulation of their functions. They will be able to read and understand advanced biology textsbooks and undertake a master-level course in both biotechnology and bioinformatics.


Program of the course:
The genetic information and informational molecules
General introduction and history. The structure of DNA and RNA. From genes to proteins, messenger RNA, transfer RNA and ribosomal RNA. The genetic code.
DNA and gene structure
The definition of gene. Coding and regulatory regions. Genes interrupted; introns.
Organization and evolution of genomes
DNA content and number of genes. Repetitive DNA. Gene families and gene duplication. Mutation, rearrangements of DNA and evolution of genomes.
The genomes of organelles.
Mobile genetic elements
Transposons,retrotransposons and retrovirus.
Chromatin and chromosomes
The nucleosomes; histones and their modifications. Higher levels of organization of chromatin. Eterochromatin and euchromatin. Eukaryotic chromosomes,telomers and centromeres.
DNA replication
The DNA polymerase. Proofreading activities of DNA polymerase.
The mechanism of replication in bacteria and eukaryotes.
Mutations and DNA repair
Spontaneous mutations and mutations caused by physical and chemical mutagens. Pre and post replication rapair systems. Recombination in immune system cells.
RNAs and transcription
The different types of RNA: synthesis and maturation. Bacterial RNA polymerase. The sigma factors. The eukaryotic RNA polymerase. Eukaryotic mRNA : capping, polyadenilation, transport in the cytoplasm. The process of transcription in bacteria and eukaryotes.
Regulation of gene expression
Bacterial promoters. Operons. Eukaryotic promoters. The regulation elements: enhancers, silencers, insulators, LCR. Gene expression and chromatin modifications. Epigenetic effects.
Introns and RNA Splicing
Spliceosomal introns. The spliceosome and mechanism of splicing. Alternative splicing and trans-Splicing. Other types of introns: group I and II introns. RNA editing. Ribozymes and riboswitch.
The ribosomes. Structure and function of tRNA. Synthesis of aminoacil-tRNA. Beginning of translation in bacteria and eukaryotes. Synthesis of polypeptides and termination of translation. Regulation of the translation. Location of proteins.

The teaching material used in class lessons is available on the e-learning platform of the course.

Suggested textbooks:
Lewin, The Gene - Compact Edition, Zanichelli
Cox, Molecular Biology, Zanichelli
Watson, Molecular Biology of the Genus, Zancihelli

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Michael Cox Biologia Molecolare Zanichelli 2013
WATSON James D , BAKER Tania A , BELL Stephen P , GANN Alexander , LEVINE Michael , LOSICK Richard Biologia molecolare del gene (Edizione 7) Zanichelli 2015 978-88-08-36480-7
LEWIN Benjamin IL GENE Edizione compatta Zanichelli 2006 978-8808-06877-4

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists of multiple-choice test.