cod. 14410

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - Second semester
Federica Maria Angela RIZZI
Academic discipline
Biologia molecolare (BIO/11)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Integrated course unit module: BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Learning objectives

To know, understand and be able to discuss, with independence of judgement, the main molecular aspects of genetic information transmission. To apply the learned concepts to the study, diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.


Before taking the exam of "Biochimica e Biologia Molecolare" students have to pass:

1) Chimica Medica

Course unit content

The course provides basic knowledge of the molecular aspects of the transmission of genetic information. The course initially introduces the basics of cell replication and cell cycle, then moves on to describe the structural and functional characteristics of nucleic acids. The lectures continue with an in-depth description of DNA replication processes. Then the concepts of DNA damage/mutation, its implications for human health, and the molecular mechanisms of damage repair are introduced. In the second part of the course, the molecular mechanisms associated with the expression of a gene and its regulatory mechanisms are addressed through the detailed description of RNA transcription, pre-mRNA maturation and protein translation.

Full programme

From Darwin to Mendel to the discovery of the transforming principle: bases of the transmission of genetic information.
Nucleic acids: composition and structure.
3D structure of DNA, DNA topology: coiling and supercoiling.
Histones, chromatin, chromosomes.
Basics of epigenetic modifications of DNA and histones.
DNA replication: characteristics of DNA polymerases, replication mechanism.
Drugs that interfere with the replication process.
Replication forks, replisome assembly, replication coupling mechanisms.
Origin of replication, mechanism of origins control in eukaryotes.
Termination of replication.
The ends of linear chromosomes: telomerase.
DNA damage and mutations.
Mechanisms of damage repair: direct, indirect, double-strand break repair mechanisms.
RNA transcription in eukaryotes: characteristics of RNA polymerases, formation of the initiation complex, elongation, termination of transcription.
Characteristics of prokaryotic and eukaryotic promoters.
Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes.
RNA maturation: capping, splicing, tailing, editing.
Notes on RNA interference.
From RNA to proteins: mechanisms and enzymes of messenger RNA translation. The genetic code.
Translation of messenger mRNA: molecules and enzymes involved.
t-RNA, ribosomes, aminoacyl-tRNAsynthetase
Stages of translation: initiation, elongation, termination.
Drugs that interfere with the protein translation process.


JD Watson et al.: Biologia Molecolare del gene. Zanichelli, Bologna.
G. Capranico, E. Martegani, G. Musci, G. Raugei, T. Russo, N. Zambrano, V. Zappavigna. Edises

Teaching methods

Lectures will be held on-site in compliance with safety standards, provided that further instructions on the ongoing health emergency are not implemented.
Lectures will be supported by slide presentations, animations, and various web resources which will be available to students on Elly platform.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists in a written test with closed answers, made of 30 multiple choice questions, ten of which concerning Molecular Biology topics. Time allowed for the test is 60 minutes; a student who wishes to withdraw from the exam must do so within the first 20 min from the beginning of the exam. Each positive answer contributes with 1 point to the final grade (0-30/30). There is no penalty for incorrect answers. In case of a positive result, you can choose whether to proceed with the recording of the grade or to take an oral exam.
In case of the persistence of the health emergency, the exams will be conducted remotely, by means of a structured written test (by Teams and/or Elly). The test consists of 6 open-ended questions on all the course contents (reference texts + documents uploaded to Elly during the course).
Students with SLD / BSE must first contact Le Eli-che: support for students with disabilities, D.S.A., B.E.S. (

Other information

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