04662 - Cell Biology

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student know:
-cellular theory: what it is, what are its bases
-prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure: what are the basic components, their size, the ways of studying it
-functions of the cell structures, with special emphasis on the structure-function relationships
-main cellular activities and the way they are regulated: gene regulation, protein synthesis, motility, communication and integration among cells in pluricellular organisms, differentiation, cell cycle and mitosis, cell death.
The student will be able:
-to utilize text books, web pages suggested to study (and to get a deeper insight on) the different topics of cell biology;
-to integrate the knowledge acquired in cell biology with those that will be acquired in the course of molecular biology;
-to study autonomously, in order to deepen the knowledge of some topics;
-to study critically, i.e. to compare the knowledge he/she will acquire within different frameworks, since for some subjects more than a theory will be presented;
to have a quantitave approach, and to solve simple problems;
-to communicate his/her own knowledge with clarity

-to perform simple laboratory activities.

Course contents

0- The eukaryotic cell: structure and function of cell organels.

1- The cytoskeleton and cell motility.

2- The cell surface, cell-to-cell interactions.

3- The nucleus. DNA replication and Mitosis

4- Genetic information and how it is utilized in the cell.

5- Membrane transport,  Endoplasmic reticulm, the Golgi apparatus, lysosomes.

6- Mitochondria, energy and metabolism.

7- Cell regulation. Signals and their transduction.

8- Signals in development and differentiation. Gene expression.

9- Cell cycle and its regulation. Apoptosis.

10- Structure and function of some specialized cells: epithelial cells, nerve cells, muscle skeletal cells.

11- Meiosis and fertilization (generalities).

During the laboratory course, the student will acquire competences: how to behave in a safe way in a laboratory; how to prepare acqueus solutions (including the necessary calculations); how to use the basic instruments of a biology lab, such as micropipettes, scales, centrifuges, spectrophotometer, optical microscopes (including phase contrast microscope), how to prepare blood slides (including blood smearing and staining); how to carry out simple experiments on osmosis, the preparation of density gradients and their use in the isolation of blood cells, cell counting, the separation of cellular organels and enzymatic assays.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2  online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme

Limitations connected to SARS COV2 pandemic may modify the practical activities.


Plopper, Principi di Biologia della cellula ed Zanichelli

If already possessed all the following are adequate: 1) Becker, Kleinsmith, Hardin, Bertone Il mondo della cellula ed PEARSON; 2) Lewin, Cassimeris, Lingappa, Plopper, Cellule, ed Zanichelli; Karp Biologia cellulare e molecolare ed EDISES; 3) Pollard, Earnshaw, Biologia Cellulare, ed. Elsevier, Masson; Cooper Hausmann La cellula: un approccio molecolare ed Piccin;

For further details Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th edition Bruce Alberts et al.

Teaching methods

Class lessons

Group work

E-learning activities

Structured and guided laboratory practical activities

Assessment methods

The student must acquire the following didactic goals:
- know the morphology of the cell, in particular the animal cell
- know the function of cell organelles
- know the regulatory function of cell signals
- know the main cell activities, such as cell cycle, apoptosis, senescence, differentiation.

The knowledge will be verified

- in February with a written exam of 40 multiple choice questions. 25 right answers correspond to a sufficient mark (18), 37 right answers correspond to 30. Errors will be discussed during the exam. The mark is considered valid for one year.

- in subsequent sessions with a structured oral exam composed by 3 knowdlege questions (to reach a sufficient mark) and two integrated knowledge arguments to establish the final mark. 

The laboratory ability, assessed during the training, will be reported in a written assay. Its contents could be discussed during the exam.

The final mark will be the average of the points obtained in Cell Biology and Anatomy (a cum laude grade will weight for 33/30 but, to obtain a final mark cum laude, both the partial exams must be passed with not less than 30).

Teaching tools

Teaching slides

Kahoot sessions

Moodle platform for e-learning

Demonstrative video

Laboratory materials for practical teaching

Office hours

See the website of Monica Forni