Molecular biochemistry and functional biology

A.A. 2021/2022
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
BIO/10 BIO/13
Obiettivi formativi
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.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
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.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Primo semestre
In relation to the modalities of delivery of training activities for the academic year 2021/22, more specific information will be provided in the coming months, based on the evolution of the health situation.
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)
Knowledge in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics is considered essential to optimize the comprehension of the topics discussed in the course.
Metodi didattici
Teaching methods
Lessons will be held in classroom and in case of health emergency they will be switched to the MS Teams platform, following a calendar that will be communicated to students at the beginning of the course. The lessons held on MS Teams can be followed both synchronously based on the timetable of the first semester and asynchronously because the recordings of the lessons will be made available to students on the Ariel platform.
Attendance to classes is strongly recommended.
Classes are aimed at the acquisition of knowledge. During classes the teacher often interacts with students by asking them questions to stimulate the discussion and deeper understanding of concepts and topics.
Information about the organization of the lessons and how to access MS Teams and any other information about teaching will be available on the ARIEL teaching site: it is therefore recommended to consult it regularly. According to the evolution of the epidemic and in compliance with the relevant regulations, it will be possible to modify the modalities of the activities planned in the classroom, informing students through the ARIEL platform.
Some classroom lectures and seminars will be delivered by experts. The section of Functional biology will also schedule mandatory practical demonstrations in the lab.
Materiale di riferimento
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
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
The exam will be written followed by individual oral test. In case of a medical emergency, exams will be oral and will be held through the MS Teams platform, according to the University rules.

The written test will be according to the following:
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 - Methods of learning verification and evaluation criteria:
The examination, in particular, will be aimed to:
- ascertain the achievement of the objectives in terms of knowledge and comprehension;
- ascertain the ability to apply knowledge and understanding through the discussion of topics typical of the subject (e.g. importance of metabolic pathways, methods of regulation, principles of structure of biologically active molecules, etc);
- ascertain the mastery of the specific language related to biochemistry;
- verify the student's ability to connect the various topics of the program and to have an holistic view of the subject.

There will be some formative evaluation activities through multiple-choice questions using digital platforms. Participation in these activities is highly recommended as a self-evaluation before the exam but will have no value on the final grade.

Group oral exam or individual written test. In case of a medical emergency, exams will be oral and will be held through the MS Teams platform, according to the University rules.

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).

Evaluation parameters - Methods of learning verification and evaluation criteria:
The oral exam will aim to assess 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.

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.
Moduli o unità didattiche
Functional biology: from development to disease
Esercitazioni di laboratorio a posto singolo: 16 ore
Lezioni: 32 ore

Molecular biochemistry
Lezioni: 40 ore

Siti didattici
su appuntamento
Via Balzaretti, 9
Venerdì mattina dalle 10:00 alle 12:00, previo appuntamento
Dip. di Scienze Farmacologiche e Biomolecolari, via Balzaretti 9
Lunedì, mercoledì e venerdì dalle 16 alle 17 e su richiesta, previo messaggio via Microsoft Teams o email
Microsoft Teams