84285 - Cell Signaling

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Quality education Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Differentiate structure, receptors, and mechanism of actions of hormones. Describe pathways of cellular signaling, and their mechanisms of activation, cross-talk and regulation. Discuss how disruptions in cellular signaling may lead to disease, and illustrate with selected examples.

Course contents

Lecture A. 1. General features of cell signal transduction: physical and chemical signals

Lecture A. 2. Cell surface receptors and nuclear receptors

Lecture A. 3. Classification of hormones

Lecture A. 4. Biosynthesis and secretion of insulin

Lecture A. 5. Signaling mechanisms regulated by receptor tyrosine kinases – part 1 (insulin/EGF & the MAPK cascade)

Lecture A. 6. Signaling mechanisms regulated by receptor tyrosine kinases – part 2 (insulin & the PI3K branch)

Lecture A. 7. Peer study group: mid-course quizzes

Lecture A. 8. Heterotrimeric G protein-coupled receptors – part 1 (adenylyl cyclase, cAMP dependent protein kinase)

Lecture A. 9. Heterotrimeric G protein-coupled receptors – part 2 (phospholipids & calcium as second messengers)

Lecture A.10. Heterotrimeric G protein-coupled receptors – part 3 (insights: G-protein signal disruption by toxic bacteria)

Lecture A.11. Guanylyl cyclases and NO signaling. Receptors recruiting protein tyrosine kinases to the plasma membrane (JAK-STAT).

Lecture A.12. Cytochrome P-450 and biosynthesis of steroid hormones – part 1

Lecture A.13. Cytochrome P-450 and biosynthesis of steroid hormones – part 2

Lecture A.14. Nuclear receptors: the ligand-activated transcription factor paradigm (hints about cell signaling by steroid hormones, vitamin D and thyroid hormones)

Lecture A.15. Oxysterols as signalling molecules. Biosynthesis and secretion of thyroid hormones

Lecture A.16. Cell death signaling (apoptosis): the role of testosterone and its receptor


  • David L. Nelson, Michael M. Cox

          Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry,

          Eighth Edition ©2021

          ISBN: 978-1-319-22800-2

          or equivalent ISBN: 978-1-319-38149-3

(alternatively, the previous is also adequate 7th edition ©2017 ISBN-10: 1-4641-2611-9; ISBN-13: 978-1-4641-2611-6 or equivalent International 7th Edition by W. H. Freeman-Macmillan learning ISBN: 978-1-319-10824-3)
  • Additional resources available for download from the E-learning dashboard of the course [link]

Teaching methods

The course of Cell Signaling is mainly taught through regular lectures.

  • Due to COVID-19 containment measures, the following mandatory class attendance for this learning activity is suspended until further notice. [the minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 60% of lessons. Since this learning activity is part of an Integrated Course (I.C. #84284-Signaling pathways in health and disease), the 60% attendance requirement refers to the total amount of I.C. lessons (14 CFUs=112 total hours). Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement (i.e. 67 hours) will not be admitted to the final exam of this I.C., and will have to attend relevant classes again during the next academic year. Professors may authorise excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.]

Learning materials related to the topics presented during class time are available for download from the E-learning dashboard of the course (cf. below) for the students to gain further insights on particular issues and to make their learning an active process. Our general policy for those handouts is that they are not a literal script of the lectures, but reflect key features and tricky points that may require further explanation.

Assessment methods

  • In light of the current Covid-19 emergency in Italy, exams at UNIBO may continue remotely (see AlmaEsami for details)

Students enrolled in the course of Signaling Pathways in Health and Disease will be assessed through three written exam modules to be taken in sequence: Physiology, Cell Signaling and Metabolic Biochemistry. ALL the three modules must be taken as an integrated exam in the same session date.

Cell Signaling will be assessed through a 1-hour ONLINE written test including both multiple-choice and open-ended response questions published on EOL.

Mark Fractions: Cell Signaling, 9/32 pts; Metabolic Biochemistry 14/32 pts; Physiology, 9/32 pts. MAX total grade: 30 cum laude.

However, please also note that exam outcomes will not be disclosed to students as partial grades of each module, but as integrated final marks. Consequently, the passing value (18) can be reached with any possible mathematical combination of the hidden partial results from the three individual exam modules.

Students will have to make their decision whether or not to accept the Signaling Pathways in Health and Disease exam outcome based on the integrated final mark.

Teaching tools

Lecture slides and further insights by E-learning activity (i.e. the institutional platform for teaching support service [link]).

Office hours

See the website of Maria Luisa Genova