Molecular biology (2009/2010)

Course code
Massimiliano Perduca
Other available courses
Other available courses
    Academic sector
    Language of instruction
    Teaching is organised as follows:
    Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
    Teoria 9 2nd Semester Massimiliano Perduca
    Laboratorio 3 2nd Semester Barbara Molesini

    Lesson timetable

    Learning outcomes

    The aim of this course is to give the students the basic knowledge of the molecular mechanisms concerning transmission, variation and expression of the genetic information.


    -> Genetic information and informational molecules
    General introduction and historical hints. The chemical structure of DNA and RNA. Three dimensional structure of DNA. Physico-chemical properties of DNA.
    -> Molecular Biology techniques
    Agarose gel electrophoresis. Nucleic acid hybridization. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Restriction endonucleases. Cloning and sub-cloning. gene expression systems.
    -> DNA, RNA and gene structure
    Definition of gene coding and regulatory regions. From genes to proteins; messenger RNA, transfer RNA and ribosomal RNA.
    -> Genome organization and evolution
    DNA content and number of genes. Mutations, DNA rearrangement and genome evolution. The organelle genomes. Interrupted genes; introns. cDNA. Gene families and duplication. DNA repeats.
    -> Transposable elements
    Transposition mechanisms and control. Retroviruses and retrotransposones. Transposons.
    -> Chromatin and chromosomes
    Nucleosomes, histones and their modifications. Higher organization levels of chromatin. Heterochromatin and euchromatin. Eukaryotic chromosomes, telomeres and centromeres.
    -> DNA replication
    DNA polymerases. Proofreading activity of DNA polymerases. Replication mechanism in bacteria and eukaryotic cells.
    -> Introns and RNA splicing
    Features of spliceosomal introns. Spliceosome and splicing mechanism. Alternative splicing and trans-splicing. Other kinds of introns: group I and group II introns and tRNA introns. The intron movement. RNA editing. Ribozymes and riboswitch.
    -> DNA mutation and repair
    Spontaneous mutations and mutations caused by physical and chemical mutagens. Pre- and post-replicative repair systems. Recombination in the immunity system cells. Approaches to homologous recombination.
    -> Regulation of gene expression
    Bacterial promoters. The operon. Activators, repressors and coactivators. Signal transductions and two component regulation systems. Eukaryotic promoters. Activators, repressors and coactivators. Gene expression and chromatin modifications. Epigenetic mechanisms.
    -> RNAs and transcription
    Different types of RNA: synthesis and maturation. Bacterial RNA polymerase. Sigma factors. Eukaryotic RNA polymerases. Eukaryotic mRNAs: capping, polyadenylation, cytoplasmic localization. The transcription process in bacteria and in eukaryotic cells.
    -> Translation
    Ribosomes. tRNA structure and function. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis. Initiation in bacteria and eukaryotic cells. Polypeptide chain synthesis and translation end. Regulation of translation.
    -> Protein localization.

    One credit of the course (corresponding to 8 hours) will be kept for the students to discuss an important topic chosen from the research literature in Molecular Biology.

    Introduction to the Laboratory Course:
    -> Nucleic acids isolation: basis, comparison of several extraction protocols, nucleic acids isolation troubleshooting.
    -> Nucleic acids electrophoresis: agarose gels, polyacrylamide gels, denaturing and non-denaturing gels, Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.
    -> Spectrophotometric quantitation of isolated nucleic acids.
    -> PCR
    1.What is PCR?
    2. Reagents: efficiency, specificity, fidelity
    3. PCR cycle. Final number of copies of the target sequence
    4.Amplifying the correct product: detection and analysis of PCR products, how to avoid contamination (uracil N-glycosylase, UV, enzymatic treatment), hot start, nested PCR
    5. Techniques and applications: 5’RACE-PCR and 3’RACE-PCR, RT-PCR, PCR mutagenesis (deletion of sequences, base substitutions, insertion mutagenesis), modification of PCR products (introduction of restriction sites, adding promoters and ribosome-binding sites), joining overlapping PCR products, quantitative PCR

    -> Genomic DNA extraction from different plant tissues. Amplification by PCR of selected genes and visualization of PCR products on agarose gels.
    -> Total RNA extraction from prokaryotes (bacteria) and eukaryotes (plants), spectrophotometric quantitation, denaturing gels. Synthesis of cDNA and visualization of cDNA population on gel. 5’ RACE-PCR and 3’ RACE-PCR.

    Assessment methods and criteria

    Oral examination preceded by a propaedeutic written exam (one per session) concerning the Laboratory Course.

    Reference books
    Activity Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
    Teoria WATSON James D , BAKER Tania A , BELL Stephen P , GANN Alexander , LEVINE Michael , LOSICK Richard Biologia molecolare del gene (Edizione 7) Zanichelli 2015 978-88-08-36480-7
    Teoria ALLISON Lizabeth A. Fondamenti di Biologia Molecolare Zanichelli 2008 978-8808-16622-7
    Teoria LEWIN Benjamin Il Gene VIII Zanichelli 2006 978-8808-17902-9
    Teoria Harvey Lodish, Chris A. Kaiser, Anthony Bretscher, Angelika Amon, Arnold Berk, Monty Krieger, Hidde Ploegh and Matthew P. Scott Molecular Cell Biology (Edizione 7) Freeman 2012 1464102325
    Teoria Alberts et al. The Cell Garland Science  
    Teoria Alberts et al. The Cell (Edizione 5) Garland Science 2007 978-0-8153-4105-5