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Academic year 2015/2016

Course ID
Teaching staff
Prof. Giovanna GAMBAROTTA
Prof. Isabelle Perroteau
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
1st year
Teaching period
First semester
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/06 - anatomia comparata e citologia
Type of examination
Written and oral (optional)
Cytology, cellular biology with elements of signal transduction, molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology first level (Bachelor degree)

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

Through the critical reading of cell biology scientific articles, students learn to address issues related to the biology of the cell, and in particular, signal transduction and cross-talk receptor, intracellular transport, cell cycle regulation, autophagocytosis, cell-cell communication and interaction, with particular attention to the mechanisms and molecules involved in the regulation of attraction and repulsion, neuronal migration, axon pathfinding. Potential applications in the biomedical field will be also discussed. The main objective is to develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret the results of the recent scientific literature. For each item, students learn how to highlight the specific scientific question, to interpret data, to discuss the experimental approach followed by the authors. Through a series of activities, students learn how to design and implement (in a virtual way) different gene expression constructs to answer questions related to a scientific problem.


Results of learning outcomes


  • Advanced cell biology experimental approaches
  • Cell transduction pathway experimental approaches
  • Cell comunication
  • Stem cells and differentiation
  • Cell migration and adhesion
  • Axon pathfinding and analysis methods


  • ability to propose appropriate solutions and experimental issues in modern cell biology
  • ability to design constructs to address different issues


  • interpretation and comparison of scientific data.


  • presentation of scientific data derived from recent literature.

Course delivery

This class will be a lecture and discussion of selected current topics in cell biology at an advanced level. Current research papers and reviews will be read and discussed for each topic. Students will be assing specific readings and online activities on moodle platform and will apply their knowledge by preparing a biotechnology project and a multidisciplinary research assay. 


Learning assessment methods

Examinations will be based on material covered in lectures, assigned readings, online and on site activities.

Midterm Multidisciplinary Test (MMT, optional) – This test will be in common with the courses of  Cell Physiology, and Virology. It will be a Moodle-based test of 30 questions (10 for each course): 27 with a variety of formats (multiple choice, true/false, filling in checklists....) and three open questions. The optional midterm Multidisciplinary test will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three courses, provided this will be passed in the first session (January-February 2016). Correspondence between Midterm Multidisciplinary Test vote and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23/32, 0.5 points; 24-25/32, 1 points; 26-27/32, 1.5 points; 28-30/32, 2 points. 

Multidisciplinary Research Essay (MRE, optional) – This at-home assignment will be in common with the courses of Advanced Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Cell Physiology, and Virology, and will refer to methodologies and technical approaches relevant to the three courses. The essay (up to 2000 characters + figures, tables and references) will be prepared by groups of normally three students. The optional Multidisciplinary Research Essay will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three courses, provided this will be passed in the first exam session (January-February 2016). Correspondence between vote to the Multidisciplinary Research Essay and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23, 0.5 points; 24-25, 1 points; 26-27, 1.5 points; 28-30, 2 points. 

Final exam – This exam will be a Moodle-based test of 20-25 questions with different formats : open question, multiple choice quizzes, true/false, short answers, open-ended questions; interpretation of experimental data and resolution of exercises similar to those carried out in the theoretical and practical cell biotechnology lessons (it is therefore  strongly suggested to attend the laboratory lessons). The maximum grade will be 32/30. Grading 31 and 32 will give rise to “ 30 cum laude”. Any additional points obtained by MMT and MRE will be added to the final exam of the first exam session (January-February 2016). 

Upon student’s request, an integrative oral examination can be taken (written/oral: 1/1).

Academic conduct: The penality for course-related dishonesty (ei. cheating on exams, plagism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.


Support activities

Useful websites:



The main objective of the course is to convey to the students the ability to

  1. analyze and interpret scientific papers concerning cell biology topics;
  2. design constructs for the expression of recombinant proteins, taking into account all the necessary steps.
  1. Of each paper, emphasis is given to the specific scientific question addressed, as compared to the status of art, then experimental approach and results are analysed. Main topics are: Signal transduction, receptor cross-talk, intracellular transport, cell cycle regulation, autophagocytosis, stem cells, ubiquitination, cell communication and cell-cell interaction, with particular attention to the mechanisms and molecules (often receptors and ligands) involved in the regulation of attraction and repulsion, neuronal migration and axon pathfinding. Each paper is discussed using active learning techniques: students are invited to comment and to explain some parts and some techniques used by the authors. The teacher observes omissions and inaccuracies and helps students to fill them or correct them. Paper reading serves as a starting point for a thorough review and/or understanding of cellular and molecular biology techniques.  Topics may vary according to recent scientific advancement and seminar programs.  
  2. Through eight sessions in a computer room, students will perform the experimental design for the construction of several plasmids and viral constructs aimed to express a recombinant protein, both wild-type, and fused with GFP or a FLAG. Students will use different software to perform database analysis, sequence alignment, exon-intron maps and to draw primers; students will also produce the protocols for the RT-PCR reactions, insert-plasmid ligation, diagnostic enzymatic digestion and their prediction, subcloning from one plasmid to another. Additional exercises will be provided online on the Moodle platform.

Suggested readings and bibliography


  • Molecular Cell Biology (7 th edition) by Lodish et al. (2013) or Molecolar Biology of the Cell (6th edition) by Alberts et al. (2015).
  • Any article from the “News and Views”, and “Perspectives” section of Nature and Science from Aug. to Dic., 2015). Supplemental journal articles and reviews will be assigned for each topic (see reading list on Moodle platform). 
  • Material covered in lectures (pdf of lectures and integrative material) is also published on Moodle platform. 



Class schedule

Lessons: from 28/09/2015 to 15/01/2016

Notes: See the timetable at the Class Schedule Page

Last update: 20/05/2016 11:37
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