cod. 1004399

Academic year 2018/19
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Biologia applicata (BIO/13)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
course unit

Learning objectives

The objective of the course is to provide to students the general principles of System Biology, elucidating them with examples taken from Biotechnology, and providing instruments to understand the literature in the field.
At the end of the course the student will be able to:
• Describe the main omics techniques described in the course
• Describe biological network
• Use main databases available free on-line
• Read, describe and discuss scientific articles on topics described in class


Some previous knowledge of general biology, molecular biology and genetics is highly advisable, as well a suitable level of English to read references in the language.

Course unit content

System Biology is the systematic and quantitative investigation of cell functions, cells and organisms, spanning the link between molecular biology and physiology. It is based on knowledge of molecular, chemical and physical processes underlying these functions, integrated with a modellinstic mathematical approach. System Biology stems from the new methods for experimental analysis, based on the sequencing of whole genomes and on high-throughput analytical methodologies (genomics, transcriptomics). System Biology sees the cell as a "chemical factory" in which substances from outside are processed to provide energy and materials, in sophisticated processes performed by specialised molecules encoded by the DNA.

Full programme

Introduction to System Biology in the context of modern biotechnology
Main omics techniqies
The graphs theory
The topology of a network (grade, distance, diameter, clustering coefficient, betweenness)
Network interaction and biological functions
Models of network (random, scale-free, hierarchical)
Modules, motives and hierarchical network
The concept of “hub”
Identification of interactions between transcription factors and their binding sites (ChIP)
Examples of networks with transcription factors and DNA sequence: experimental approaches to study these networks
Yeast one-hybrid, two-hybrid and three-hybrid; reverse two-hybrid
Examples of networks with interactions among proteins: interactomes and their limitations
Methods to identify protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions
Origin of robustness: redundancy of nodes, presence of alternative routes
Network of gene regulation
Systems biology and mathematical modelling: how to build a model, stoichiometrical models, metabolical models or kinetic models, example
System biology versus synthetic biology


The material for studying the topics is provided by the teacher and available partially as a booklet and on Elly. It will be based on papers from the international literature and on slides shown during the lectures.

Teaching methods

The course is organised with frontal lectures and discussion of cases from the literature, based on original papers, practical lessons using the PC and databases available free on-line. In depth discussion on specific topics is presented as seminars.

Assessment methods and criteria

Student will be assessed by an oral examination, based on a personal study performed by the student on a topic previously agreed with the teacher. During the slide presentation the lecturer verifies the communication skills, the knowledge acquired and the application of knowledge. Judgement autonomy is verified in the discussion with the student.

Other information

- - -