BI2BK5-Molecular Biology of the Gene: Expression, Function and Analysis

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: BI1BC2 Genes and Chromosomes
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Prof Simon Andrews


Summary module description:

This module aims to provide an appreciation of the mechanisms involved in the control of gene expression, and the tools used to study such processes and those used to assess gene function.

Assessable learning outcomes:
• identify the important features of interactions between proteins and nucleic acids which lead to specificity and strength of binding;
• recount the mechanisms of control of gene expression in the lac and trp operons of E. coli and in the genes which control lysogeny in phage lambda;
• outline the features of the control mechanisms that are used to regulate gene expression developmentally and spatially within organisms, in response to external stimuli and in order to integrate different responses;
• make distinctions between the mechanisms employed for control of gene expression in eukaryote as opposed to prokaryote systems;
• comprehend the techniques employed for analysis of gene function and expression;
• understand the use of bioinformatics as a tool in examining nucleotide and amino acid sequence data;
• understand how chromosomes are organised and replicated.

Additional outcomes:
• analyse and understand specified literature on genetic control mechanisms.

Outline content:
How genes are organised within chromosomes. The process of DNA replication. The basal transcription machinery in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; the involvement of chromosome structure in gene expression; the involvement of protein-nucleic acid interactions in control of gene expression; details of control of the the lac and trp operons of E. coli and the genes which control lysogeny in phage lambda; the use of alternative sigma factors to control developmental and spatial processes in B. subtilis; response of genes to external stimuli illustrated by appropriate examples; mechanisms used to switch on and off genes in eukaryotes and to integrate the effects of varying stimuli; RNAi; microarray technology; bioinformatics analysis of gene function; problem solving studies of gene function using bioinformatics.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Most weeks will involve two 50-minute lectures. A problem-solving, tutorial or bioinformatic 'practical' session may follow the lectures. Some lectures will include required background reading materials that will form part of the assessed content of the module. The in-course assessment will also include an end-of-module MCQ test(s) (to encourage revision of the course and to provide an indication of comprehension).

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Tutorials 8
Practicals classes and workshops 8
Guided independent study 64
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 15
Class test administered by School 15

Other information on summative assessment:
In-course assessment - practical write-ups and MCQs.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    A one-and-a-half hour examination requiring the answer of two questions out of four.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August / September

    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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