The main goal of this course is to provide the necessary background for understanding the key aspects of nucleic acid structure, thus explaining the peculiar stability, informational content and 'readability' properties of DNA and RNA.
Special attention will be given to the interaction between nucleic acids and regulatory proteins and to various forms of reciprocal adaptation aimed at maximizing the specificity and regulatory potential of such interactions. Specific case studies deal with bacterial proteins involved in DNA replication and repair, restriction/modification enzymes, RNA polymerase and other transcriptional proteins, ribosomes and other key components of the translational machinery. The different regulatory strategies utilized by bacteria and phages, and their implications (conceptual similarities) with respect to the gene expression control mechanisms operating in more complex organisms will also be examined.
Another general goal is to provide conceptual proof, through theoretical and practical examples (e.g., DNA polymerase, DNA ligase, restriction/modification enzymes, PCR, enzymatic DNA sequencing, host/vector systems and their different types of regulation), of the close connection between basic Molecular Biology and its many applications in the field of "recombinant DNA technology".
ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.
Students are expected to acquire a detailed knowledge at the molecular
level of some key cellular processes (mainly related to gene expression control at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional and translational level), besides familiarity with the main
molecular methodologies underlying the experimental discoveries they will be learning about.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.
Through the guided analysis of the key experiments and structures that led to our current understanding of the main processes involved in the management and transfer of biological information, students will gain the ability (i.e., competecence and criticisim) to addreess the experimental study of novel (or unrelated) bio-molecular processes and to plan meaningful (i.e., carefully controlled) experiments in the field of molecular biology