The main objective of the course is to gain a deep knowledge of the molecular structure of nucleic acids and proteins, their biological functions and the molecular methodologies used to reach these goals. In particular, the student will study the fundamental mechanisms of the DNA replication, repair and recombination processes, and the molecular processes controlling gene expression from DNA to proteins. Both classic experiments and innovative genome-wide approaches will be described to illustrate the structures and functions of the genomes.
Expected learning outcomes
Lesson period: First semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Brief introduction on protein structure The molecular features of genes The chemical nature of the genetic material: the discovery of the DNA DNA structures Chemical-physical properties of DNA RNA structures: chemical-physical properties of RNA DNA topology and DNA topoisomerases
Brief introduction on gene functions Introduction on the control of gene expression Short summary on the flow of genetic information and the discovery of the genetic code The different levels of the gene expression
Organization and evolution of genes, chromosomes and genomes The structure and plasticity of prokaryotic genomes. Organization of eukaryotic genomes. The structure of eukaryotic chromatin. Gene families, DNA repeats, satellite DNA, microsatellites, minisatellites, transposones and retrotransposones. The DNA test.
Methods to study nucleic acid and proteins structure as well as gene expression Spectrophotometric and ultracentrifugation techniques DNA denaturation and renaturation: probes and hybridization. DNA cloning techniques: The recombinant DNA technologies. Types of cloning vectors. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and its multiple applications. DNA and cDNA libraries and their uses. Electrophoresis and other techniques to separate nucleic acid and proteins: Southern, Northern, and Western blotting. Classic method for DNA sequencing and the development of next generation sequences procedures. Methods to study gene expression and mutagenesis. Knock out and other methods to switch off gene expression. Various genome editing methods. Genetic, biochemical and molecular biology approaches to study protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions. Experimental approaches for genome and proteome wide analyses. The development of Bioinformatics tools. The relevance of model organisms to study genomes and their expression.
DNA replication DNA replication models Gene and factors involved in DNA replication in prokaryotes, eukaryotes, DNA and RNA virus . Control of DNA replication.
DNA repair Different types of DNA damages. Different types of DNA repair mechanisms. The control of the genome integrity and the DNA damage signal transduction pathway. Genome integrity checkpoints and cancerogenesis.
DNA recombination Meiotic recombination General and site-specific recombination Recombination models DNA transposition Molecular mechanisms and factors involved in DNA recombination
DNA transcription Prokaryotes as paradigms for the control of gene expression at the transcriptional level. The eukaryotic RNA polymerases and their promoters. General transcription factors in eukaryotes. Transcriptional activators and repressors in eukaryotes Impact of the chromatin structure on the control of transcription. Processing of the RNA transcripts The splicing process The control of the RNA transcripts stability Regulation of gene expression through RNA splicing and transcript stability
RNA translation (protein synthesis) Mechanism of RNA translation RNA translation and the control of gene expression Post-translational regulation of gene expression Protein stability Post-translational controls (phosphorylation, ubiquitination and other types of protein modifications)
Suggested textbook Amaldi, F., Benedetti, P., Pesole, G. e Plevani, P. Biologia Molecolare. C.E.A., Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, 2014. Craig et al. Biologia Molecolare, Pearson Ed. 2013
Other textbooks will be suggested during the course. There will be a written exam with open questions regarding any part of the program. Attendance to class mandatory. Teaching methods: traditional. Teaching lenguage: italian.