A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course will focus on the nature of biological membranes and of the proteins that occupy them. Specific learning objectives will be:
1. To familiarize students with the basic chemical structure of membrane components
2. To describe how lipid composition affects the physical properties of membranes
3. To learn basic principles of endocytosis and exocytosis
4. to describe the role of passive and active properties of the membrane in the generation of electrical signals.
5. To describe membrane proteins: analysis of structure-function, lipid-protein interaction, lipid raft
6. To describe the special techniques used to study membranes and membranes proteins.
7. To provide sufficient knowledge to allow students to critically read the literature on membrane structure and function
8. To promote the ability of students to critically discuss scientific papers
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students will be able to
1.Describe the structure, organization and biogenesis of biological membranes. Explain how physico-chemical properties of the lipids and proteins lead to the dynamic nature of biological membranes;
2. Have comprehensive knowledge of the main characteristics of membrane proteins and their roles in membrane structure, transport and signaling;
3. Demonstrate critical understanding of the thermodynamics underpinning these mechanisms;
6. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the range of methods and techniques used to study membranes.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
Several aspects of membrane biophysics. The role of lipid and protein components. Membrane microdomains and lipid-protein interactions.
Structural and functional features of membrane proteins with respect to transmembrane domains and the presence of alpha helix and/or beta sheets. Structure-function relationships. Function determination via structural homology analysis. Functional domains: homo- and heteromultimers.
Membrane specializations: t-tubules, neuromuscolar junctions
Membrane excitability, the membrane as a RC circuit.
The multifunctions of membrane proteins. Channel-type behaviour of transport proteins. Protein translocation between the cell membrane and cytoplasm in different cellular conditions. Methods used for the characterization of membrane proteins.
Examples of membrane transports mediated by carrier proteins, ion channels, V-ATPases, P-ATPases, in animal and plant cells will be discussed.
Papers related to the topics described will be analyzed.
Prerequisites for admission
Students are expected to have basic knowledge of cellular physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and membrane biology.
Teaching methods
Interactive frontal lessons, where students are encouraged to attend and to actively participate. Assigned papers to be discussed by students in small groups or singularly. Presented materials will be made available through the ARIEL website.
Teaching Resources
A short list of review papers will be available on the course web-page together with links to useful websites. A selection of papers suitable for the student presentations will be also made available. Textbook: B. Hille; Ion channels of excitable membranes; Sinauer ed.
Assessment methods and Criteria
he exam consists of two equal parts:
part 1: oral test assessing the topics addressed during first part of the course
part 2: presentation of a scientific paper and discussion of the results in the context of the topics addressed in the course.
BIO/09 - PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
to be arranged by email
Torre A 6th floor