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    Umberto GALDERISI

    Insegnamento di MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

    Corso di laurea magistrale a ciclo unico in MEDICINA E CHIRURGIA

    SSD: BIO/11

    CFU: 3,00


    Periodo di Erogazione: Primo Semestre


    Lingua di insegnamento



    Teaching language



    The chemical structure of nucleic acids. The physical structure of DNA. The DNA topology. The structure of RNA.

    The structure of the genome, the chromatin and the nucleosome. DNA replication. Mutations and DNA repair mechanisms.

    RNA transcription. RNA processing. Translation

    The regulation of transcription in prokaryotes. Regulation of transcription in eukaryotes.

    Textbook and course materials

    GENOME 4 by TA Brown
    Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN-13: 978-0815345084

    Course objectives

    The course aims to provide students with the knowledge concerning the study of the structure, function and regulation of biological macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA and proteins, focusing attention on the biochemical pathways in which they are involved. In particular, the mechanisms underlying DNA replication and repair will be addressed, as well as those that control the flow of genetic information from DNA to proteins, transcription and translation, and the related mechanisms of cell regulation. In this way the student will be able to understand the structure, function and activity of biological macromolecules, and of the routes involved in the regulation and control of the flow of biological information.


    There are no prerequisites, although it is necessary to have acquired basic knowledge of general chemistry.

    Teaching methods

    The course is organized in lectures with computer support (Power Point) and paper (documents, scientific works in pdf).

    Evaluation methods

    Evaluation of student proficiency is based on and oral test (viva voce). Questions cover the basic aspects as well as the main aspects of molecular biology. The questions will be as specific to evaluate the basic knowledge of the topic. This means that the student must know the key steps of the structure, function and regulation of biological macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA and proteins. The student should be able to discuss on these topics and be able to connect and analyze the different subjects. The final grade is expressed in 30/30 were 18 represents the minimum and 30 the maximum.

    Course Syllabus

    Experiments by Avery, Griffith, Hershey e Chase.
    Nucleic Acids.
    Structure and properties of nucleotides the nucleotides are made of bases, sugars and phosphates characteristic. Phosphodiester bond combine nucleotide units in nucleic acids. The nucleotide bases influence the three-dimensional structure of nucleic acids. Other roles of nucleotides in cells.
    DNA structure.
    DNA molecules have a typical base composition. Usually DNA is a double helix right-handed. The DNA helix shows different shapes. Physical characteristics of the DNA molecule: denaturation and renaturation.
    RNA structure
    RNA molecules have a typical base composition. RNA World: mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, small RNA and other RNA.
    DNA replication.
    Experiment by Meselson and Stahl. General features of DNA duplication. Replication in bacteria. The structure and the biological role of the different prokaryotic DNA polymerases. Exonuclease activity of DNA polymerase III: proofreading. Replication in eukaryotes. The structure and the biological role of the different eukaryotic DNA polymerases. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) link between duplication and cell cycle. Telomere and telomerase: the problem of extremities in the eukaryotic genome.
    Mutations and mechanisms of DNA repair.
    Types of mutations. Spontaneous mutations: duplication errors, Keto–enol tautomerism, Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion. Induced mutations: chemical agents, physical agents. Chemical agents: base analogues, deaminating agents, alkylating agents and intercalating agents. Physical agents: UV radiation, ionizing radiation, heat. Repair Systems: direct repair, nucleotide excision repair and base excision repair, mismatch repair, recombination repair. SOS mechanism.
    RNA transcription.
    General characteristics of the transcription. The structure of the prokaryotic promoter. Transcription in bacteria. Structural Biology of Bacterial RNA Polymerase and the key rule of sigma factors. Intrinsic terminators and the rho protein. RNA maturation in bacteria. Transcription in eukaryotes. Characteristics and structure of eukaryotic RNA polymerases: comparison between eukaryotic promoters. The transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) and the role of general transcription factors in eukaryotes.
    Maturation and modifications of the messenger RNA: signal sequences, capping, splicing and alternative splicing, self-splicing and polyadenylation. Editing
    Maturation of ribosomal RNA and transfer. Post-transcriptional modifications of rRNA and tRNA. RNA degradation.
    The stages of protein biosynthesis: the genetic code and its characteristics, role of tRNA, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase, start factors, elongation and release in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Inhibitors of protein synthesis. Post-translational modifications (protein folding, proteolytic cutting, chemical modification and splicing of inteins), sorting and degradation of proteins (the ubiquitin-proteasome system). Regulation of gene expression
    Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes: lactose and tryptophan operons.
    Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes: the example of antisense RNA and the mechanism of RNA interference (siRNA).

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