BI3BF7-Cell Communication and Disease

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Level:6
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: BI1BA1 The Living Cell or BI2BD4 Life and Death of a Cell
Non-modular pre-requisites: In addition to students studying Biomolecular Sciences and Biochemistry, this module is recommended for students with an interest in Molecular and Medical Microbiology
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Dr Mike Fry

Email: m.j.fry@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
To develop a deeper understanding of the role of receptors and signal transduction in the function of cells. This will include understanding how hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors and other molecular messengers act and the roles of cell surface receptors, nuclear receptors and associated signalling proteins such as G proteins and kinases. To understand the structure/function relationships of receptors (nuclear and cell surface) and signalling molecules. To understand the methods used for studying these processes (both laboratory based and computer simulations/models). To understand where, and how, these processes go wrong in disease. These topics will be considered from both a pathway centric and systems view of the topic.

Aims:
To develop a deeper understanding of the role of receptors and signal transduction in the function of cells. This will include understanding how hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors and other molecular messengers act and the roles of cell surface receptors, nuclear receptors and associated signalling proteins such as G proteins and kinases. To understand the structure/function relationships of receptors (nuclear and cell surface) and signalling molecules. To understand the methods used for studying these processes (both laboratory based and computer simulations/models). To understand where, and how, these processes go wrong in disease. These topics will be considered from both a pathway centric and systems view of the topic.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students will be able to:
(i) Describe the structure and discuss the function of the main classes of receptors and signalling molecules and the methods used to study these.
(ii) Analyse and solve numerical problems on the binding of ligands to receptors.
(iii) Critically analyse and deduce signalling pathways based on experimental data on their constitutive components.
(iv) Critically evaluate scientific literature on the topic of the course.
(v) Gain an appreciation of how computational modelling can be used to analyse signalling pathways in health and disease.

Additional outcomes:
Students will improve their problem solving and data handling skills and have a better understanding of how to extract and present relevant information from primary research papers.

Outline content:
This unit provides an overview of current knowledge and understanding of receptors and their role in the actions of hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors and other molecular messengers. The course will be introduced with a general discussion of cell signalling mechanisms and the concepts underlying cell signalling. The following topics will be discussed in detail in subsequent lectures: nuclear receptors, superfamilies of cell surface receptors (G protein-coupled, protein tyrosine kinase), detailed discussion of G protein-coupled receptors and G-proteins and associated signalling proteins (adenylyl cyclase, phospholipase C), tyrosine kinase-linked receptors, kinases and phosphatases, MAP kinase signalling and lipid signalling (PI 3-kinase). This will all be placed in the context of normal signalling and compared to what goes wrong in many diseases. Pathway modelling software will be used to illustrate how changing the activity of a single component of a pathway can have major consequences for the cell. The course will be backed up by a data handling session, analysis of signalling pathways through problem classes and discussion classes on relevant literature, concentrating particularly on the experimental methods used in signal transduction research. The final session of the course will be a problem-based course review involving a class project modelling of a signalling pathway.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, Data Handling and Problem Classes, Group Discussions on Relevant Literature.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Tutorials 4
Practicals classes and workshops 16
Guided independent study 60
       
Total hours by term 100.00
       
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Set exercise 15
Class test administered by School 15

Other information on summative assessment:
One data handling problem and two MCQ tests on discussed literature (each worth 10%).

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: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    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:
    Two hour examination requiring the answer of two questions from 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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