The identification of the effects of xenobiotics on development and tissue differentiation is a major branch of toxicology. The course will provide the students with current knowledge on the basis of the biological, molecular and genetic mechanisms that take place from gastrulation to organ formation and tissue differentiation. Particular emphasis will be given to studies in model organisms. Therefore, the course will focus on the developmental programs of mouse and zebrafish, and their application to study the effects of toxic agents and on state-of-the-art technologies to study the effect of xenobiotics in living animals (e.g. in vivo imaging) as well as in autoptic tissues and provide the basis for the understanding of the exploitation of these model organisms for small-scale and high-throughput analyses aimed at the quantitative and qualitative analysis of toxicant effects in living organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student should acquire knowledge on the cellular, molecular and genetic bases that regulate the development and differentiation of multicellular organisms to understand the interference of toxic agents in these processes. In particular, the student should acquire knowledge on how to study the effects of these substances on mechanisms of proliferation, cell death, gene expression and cell-cell communication which integrate during the development of multicellular organisms. The student must be able to understand the scientific and methodological approach used for studying the effects of toxic agents on developmental and differentiation programs, and the specific advantages of the different animal models.
Lesson period: First semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
The course aims at giving the instruments necessary to understand the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the development and differentiation of animal models. The course will be divided in three parts:
1. The first part will be devoted to understand the specific role of biological processes during development and differentiation. 2. The second part will be devoted to understand the use of the different manipulations and techniques applied in the different animal models. 3. The third part will be devoted to understand the different phases of development and differentiation that lead to the formation of an adult organism.
- Experimental approaches and instruments used to study developmental biology. - Cellular mechanisms involved in developmental biology: control of gene expression; cell-communications: the gradients and the induction; cell proliferation; cell death; - Experimental animal models to study development: C.Elegans, Drosophila Melanogaster, Danio Rerio, Mus Musculus -Different phases of development and organogenesis: fertilisation, gastrulation, ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm derivatives; - The generation of transgenic, knockout animal models; - The use of animal models to study the effect of toxic substances.
Prerequisites for admission
The Course requires a basic knowledge in Biology (cellular and molecular) as well as of genetics.
The course will consists of lectures as well as of practical demonstration in the lab
Students will be provided with slides and scientific articles presented during the lectures; as an in-depth text it is recommended: "Fundamentals of developmental biology "by Jonathan M. Slack.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination will consist in an oral presentation of an article covering topics of the lectures or a written exam on the topics of the course (with one open question and 10 multiple choice questions).