Protein Biochemistry explores, at an advanced level, the structural and functional features that support the many and varied activities of proteins in the cell. The course will cover the theoretical bases of protein structure, activity and dynamics, with examples from diseases related to protein misfolding and dysfunction, and molecular medicine. For different topics, research approaches employed for the advanced study of protein biochemistry and function will be analysed and discussed.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have achieved a proficient, in-depth understanding of molecular mechanisms that underlie the main cellular processes, linked to protein synthesis, turnover, proteotoxicity and regulation. This course will provide the cultural tools for understanding the structural bases of physiological and pathological protein functions, and for the critical and applied analysis of protein biochemistry at the molecular and cellular levels.
Lesson period: Second semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Starting from the fundamental properties of proteins, the course will explore their destinations and behavior in the context of protein synthesis, protein folding/misfolding and aggregation (with an angle on proteotoxicity and misfolding diseases). In particular, recovery of misfolded proteins through chaperones and chaperonins will be analyzed. Processes related to protein turnover and proteolytic digestion will be explored, through detailed analysis of the ubiquitin/proteasome system, lysosome digestion, autophagy and the unfolded protein response from the ER. Apoptosis and related cellular processes will be also covered.
Prerequisites for admission
A solid background in biochemistry, introductory biophysics and cell biology.
The Protein Biochemistry course is organized as a combination of frontal lectures, seminars held by external speakers, and (optional) seminars presented by the students. Frontal lectures will constitute 80% of teaching activities, in line with course topics. 20% will be contributed by external lecturers and/or students scientific literature presentations.
According to the arguments dealt with, reference to specific book chapters (e.g. from Voet & Voet - BIOCHEMISTRY, 3rd Edition, Wiley) or to literature reviews will be indicated to students during the course, and in provided teaching materials. The varied reference material also reflects the multi-media approach that is a necessary component of advanced level scientific studies and research dealt with in this Course. Lecture slides and literature reference articles will be made available on the Ariel platform.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Examinations consist of a written exam based on three open questions on covered lecture topics. Students who give a seminar during the second half of the course will sit a reduced written exam, and their final grade will be calculated from the weighted average of the grades obtained for the seminar (25%) and written exam (75%).