Molecular biochemistry and functional biology

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
BIO/10 BIO/13
Learning objectives
The course is organized in two sections, Molecular Biochemistry and Functional Biology, and is consistent with the objectives of the course of study by providing knowledge and skills on the molecular mechanisms that regulate fundamental biological processes involved in cell and organ functions. Emphasis will be on mechanisms of metabolic regulation, developmental biology and organogenesis and the possible pathogenic implications. Along with other courses, it contributes to the acquisition of the proper background required for additional studies in applicative fields.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will acquire the biochemical, molecular, cellular and genetic bases that regulate metabolism, development and differentiation in multicellular organisms. In particular, the student will know how signals affect cellular functions, including epigenome modifications and transcriptional mechanisms and will be able to apply the knowledge of these mechanisms to the regulation of metabolism, proliferation, cell death and cell-cell communication and how they are integrated during the development of multicellular organisms. The student will also be able to understand the scientific and methodological approaches used for the functional study of genes/proteins involved in metabolism, development and differentiation and the impact of mutations in genetic diseases.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
The course is organized in two sections, namely "Molecular Biochemistry" and "Functional Biology", and is aimed at providing knowledge on the molecular mechanisms that regulate fundamental biological processes involved in cell and organ functions. Emphasis will be on mechanisms of metabolic regulation, developmental biology and organogenesis.

E51-85-A - Molecular biochemistry.
The course will cover the following topics
1. Molecular mechanisms of regulation
- Principles of signal transduction
- Mechanisms of gene transcription
· Transcription factors
· Nuclear receptors
· Coregulators
- Transcriptional mechanisms in the regulation of metabolism
- Epigenetics
· Definition and basic principles
· Metabolism and epigenetics
· Epigenetics and differentiation
· Epigenetics in aging and disease

2. Molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic functions of organs and tissues
Metabolic pathways and their regulation in different organs
- Glycolysis
- Gluconeogenesis
- Glycogen metabolism
- Pentose phosphate pathway
- Fatty acid metabolism
- Cholesterol metabolism
- Amino acid metabolism

3. Molecular aspects of metabolic pathways and functions in special cell types
- Metabolic pathways and their regulation in:
· Cancer cells
· Stem cells
· Cells of immune system

E51-85-B - Functional biology: from development to disease.
The Course will cover the following subjects:
Introduction to Developmental Biology
Experimental approaches and techniques employed to study developmental mechanisms
Cellular and molecular mechanisms implicated in developmental biology
Animal models to study development (the big 6): Zebrafish, Drosophila Melanogaster, C. Elegans, Mus Musculus.
The fertilisation process
The first stages of development (gastrulation of fomration of the germinative layers)
Organogenesis: the nervous system, the neural crest cells, the heart, the muscles.
Techniques of mouse transgenesis (knockout, conditional, genome-editing based)
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics is considered essential to optimize the comprehension of the topics discussed in the course.
Teaching methods
Classroom lectures and seminars delivered by experts. Mandatory practical demonstrations in the lab. During classes the teacher often interacts with students by asking them questions aimed at stimulating discussion and deeper understanding of concepts and topics.
Teaching Resources
E51-85-A - Molecular biochemistry
- pdf of the slides
- bibliographic material used during lectures
Biochemistry textbooks used for general reference
- Harper, Review of Biochemistry, 24th edition
- Nelson, Cox, Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, 7th edition, W.H. Freeman and Company

E51-85-B - Functional biology: from development to disease
- pdf of the slides
Textbooks for reference:
- Slack: Essential Developmental Biology
- Wolpert: Developmental Biology
Assessment methods and Criteria
Molecular biochemistry
Individual written test

Two open questions (answers 200 words maximum)
20 multiple choice questions
Rating: 10 points max per open question and multiple choice; must get at least 6 (enough) points per open question and 4 points for multiple choice (considering 0.5 points for correct answers and that wrong answers subtract 0.1 points). The written test will be followed by discussion on topics illustrated to students during the classes, with the aim of assessing how the concepts have been acquired.

Evaluation parameters:
Critical discussion of topics covered during frontal lessons, through which understanding, correctness, appropriateness of language, ability to connect different topics of the program and apply them to relevant biological questions will be evaluated.

Functional biology
Group oral exam or individual written test

The oral exam will consist in assessing the acquired knowledge on the Course through a group presentation (max three students) of a scientific research article related to one topic of the Course. Communication skills as well as the capacity to critically understand the methodologies underlying the biological relevance of the results will be assessed.

The written test will consist in 1 open question on one topic of the course (max 10 points) and of 10 multiple choice questions (2 points for each correct answer).

Type of evaluation:
Rated in thirtieths and it will be the average of the evaluation obtained in Molecular biochemistry and in Functional biology

Notification of results:
The results of the exams will be notified at the end of the test and will be recorded through the appropriate portal of reporting predisposed for each course.
Functional biology: from development to disease
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
BIO/13 - EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 0
Single bench laboratory practical: 16 hours
Lessons: 32 hours
Molecular biochemistry
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
BIO/13 - EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 40 hours
Fridays 10:00-12:00 (ask for appointment)
Dipartimento di Scienze Farmacologiche e Biomolecolari, via Balzaretti 9
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and upon request via Microsoft Teams or email
Microsoft Teams