Cell biophysics

A.A. 2020/2021
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
BIO/04 BIO/09
Obiettivi formativi
This course introduces selected subjects in the broad area of cell biology that can be studied applying physical principles and techniques. Emphasis will be given on how the integrated activity of biomolecules fulfill a cellular task, such as cell motility, self-sustained oscillators and signaling cascades propagating and amplifying a signal in time and space. The aim is to show what quantitative tools can achieve beyond the mere collecting and archiving of facts. The final goal is to translate simple cellular systems into mathematical equation for modeling. By devising models, non-obvious quantitative predictions are derived which can be experimentally tested and may lead to connect different and apparently unrelated phenomena. The course consists of lectures, experimental lab work and solution of practical problems meant to facilitate a quantitative understanding of cellular functions.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
At the end of this course the students will understand the physical principles of basic cellular functions and how data from high-resolution techniques provide information on dynamic cellular systems. Students will be able to perform basic calculations of the strengths of physical interactions within cells and understand complex experimental setups in modern biophysics. During the course students will read and critique original papers and will be trained to present them in front of the class in order to learn how to correctly interpret and communicate results.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Primo semestre
Le lezioni frontali si terranno telematicamente sulla piattaforma Microsoft Teams e saranno erogate sia in sincrono (negli orari prestabiliti) sia anche in remoto (in caso di impegni improrogabili del docente, partecipazione a congressi telematici, riunioni, etc.). Il modulo di esercitazioni è previsto in presenza, in gruppi ristretti di studenti e in modalità ridotta per quanto riguarda il numero di ore. La parte di esercitazioni che non sarà svolta in laboratorio è stata convertita in esercizi da svolgere a casa e/o eventualmente in presenza del docente sulla piattaforma informatica Teams.
Cell electrical excitability will be discussed in terms of membrane protein dynamics belonging to different type of ionic conductance. The mechanism of action potential generation will be instrumental to underlying the functional differences of neuronal, cardiac or skeletal muscle excitability. Moreover, because cell-to-cell communication is directly related to the modality of excitation, cell network analysis, signal spreading and message interpretation will all be presented and discussed in details. Cell motility, described in terms of mechanical interaction of contractile protein, will be another example of protein population dynamics and cooperativity. Finally, biological membrane fusion and dynamics, perception and processing of physical stimuli, are among the issues of the course that will be analyzed from the cellular to the atomic level.
Basic knowledge of cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, general physiology.
Metodi didattici
Lectures and practice in dedicated teaching lab (Physiology lab 14 @ dept. of Biosciences)
Materiale di riferimento
Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts et al. 4th edition)
Physical Biology of the Cell, (Philips et al, Second edition)
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
Learning assessment will be through a written exam. Students attending the course can opt for a mid-term examination plus a second partial exam at the end of the course.

The text of the exam includes open questions (40%), charts and graphs to complete (10%) and multiple choices tests (50%). These proportions broadly reflect their contribution to the composition of the final score. Multiple choice tests are aimed to broadly verify the understanding of concepts and definitions taught during the course whereas open questions/charts are designed to evaluate problem solving skills.
Note that unanswered questions will be counted as wrong answers. Examples of multiple-choice questions and their evaluation will be provided during the course.
Esercitazioni: 32 ore
Lezioni: 32 ore
Siti didattici
Lunedì 10.30 12.30
Sesto piano Torre B edifici Biologici via Celoria 26
martedì 8,30 -9
Torre C , piano IV