96022 - Biochemistry of Cellular Signaling

Course Unit Page

SDGs

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

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will acquire deepened knowledge on the main biochemical mechanisms involved in the intracellular signaling cascades and in the functional interactions between mitochondria and other organelles. The practical training will allow student to become familiar with the main techniques to manage human cell cultures and with some basic methodologies for the analysis of several biochemical and molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular homeostasis in terms of cell proliferation/death and energy efficiency. Therefore, the student will be able to: i) analyze and discuss cellular biochemistry topics; ii) identify the methodologies to solve specific biochemical and biological problems; iii) carry out biochemical analyzes to evaluate alterations in cellular functions.

Course contents

Lectures:

Signaling molecular platforms: i) cell signaling features; ii) interaction and functional integration between 7TM receptors and RTKs in the integration of cell signalling: iii) Ademylate cyclase and cAMP signalling; biosensors for the measurement of cAMP in vivo iv) phospholipase C: molecular organisation and regulation; v) Ca2+ as an universal and versatile second messenger: spatio-temporal aspects; biosensors for the measurement of Ca2+ into the cytosol and organelles; vi) arrestin as molecular scaffold during receptor desensitisation/endocytosis and cellular signalling.

Mitochondria and signalling transduction: i) Ultrastructure versus network: mitochondrial cristae as an example of supramolecular organization of biological membranes; mitochondrial reticulum and its morphological and functional characteristics; mitochondrial dynamics: molecular mechanisms and proteins involved in the regulation of fusion and fission; quality control process of mitochondria or mitophagy; methodologies for the analysis of the structure and function of mitochondria. ii) Mitochondria as a cellular signaling platform: metabolites versus oncometabolites; molecular pathways activated by mitochondrial signals. iii) Signaling between mitochondria and ER: ultrastructural features of the subcellular compartment MAMs and protein networks involved in its maintenance and in its cellular function; role of MAMs in mitochondrial calcium homeostasis (transport systems, structure and function of the Ca2+ uniport); in vivo measurement of mitochondrial Ca2+ using bio-imaging techniques; MAMs as a platform for the biosynthesis of phospholipids between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria.

AMPK and mTOR signaling pathways: i) AMPK and mTOR complexes: structure and cellular functions; ii) signaling mediated by the molecular complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2; iii) molecular interaction between AMPK and AKT in signaling triggered by amino acids and growth factors; iv) AMPK and mTOR complexes as a molecular axis in the regulation of autophagy parhway.

Experimental laboratory

The experimental laboratory will introduce students 1) to the use of cellular models for the analysis of some biochemical and molecular parameters using cell viability, SDS Page/Western blotting and immunofluorescence assays; 2) to the analysis and discussion of the data obtained during the practical laboratory.

Readings/Bibliography

Necessary educational supports

Students will be provided with further recommended bibliographical references (reviews and original papers) and the protocol for experimental laboratory for a further deepening of the program contents. The educational supports will be provided as PDF files and will be available to the students on the Virtual Learning Environment (https://virtuale.unibo.it).

Advised educational supports

The teacher advises students to consult the following textbooks for clarifications on the basic concepts of cellular and structural biochemistry: i) Cells - Lewin et al; ii) Protein Structure and Function - Petsko and Ringe; iii) Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry - Nelson and Cox.

Teaching methods

The teaching method used is based on lectures during which the contents of the program will be illustrated and discussed using PowerPoint slides. Attendance to such lessons is not mandatory but it is highly recommended as the contents of the program will be presented and explained by the teacher and will be discussed with the whole class. This teaching method will facilitate the learning of contents and will allow the achievement of the knowledge and skills by the whole class. Students are encouraged to communicate to the teacher any requirements by e-mail as soon as possible. This will allow the teacher to evaluate which teaching support tools are most adequate to make the training course accessible to all students.

During the experimental experience, students will be supervised by the teacher and the academic tutor in charge, with a constant dialogue and discussion aimed at clarifying the analytical approaches, the individual experiments performed and the methodologies used. The practical experience in laboratory will be carried out in single-double place at the workbench by using several and different laboratory equipment. Students are encouraged to communicate to the teacher any requirements by e-mail as soon as possible. This will allow the teacher to evaluate which teaching support tools are most adequate to make the training course accessible to all students. Attendance at the laboratory is mandatory.

Assessment methods

The learning test assessment of lectures and experimental laboratory teaching will consist in an interview-test of open questions in order to verify and evaluate the student's knowledge of the contents developed and discussed during the lessons and the experimental laboratory. Moreover, the student's ability to integrate and link the different topics with particular attention to the use of scientific terminology and to the proper and accurate exposure will be evaluated. In order to obtain a final grade of 30/30 with honors, the student must show to know in depth all the topics covered during the lessons. Further, the student must explain and integrate the topics with properties of scientific language. To obtain a final grade of 30/30, the student must explain contents covered during the lessons and show the ability to properly integrate them with properties of scientific language. The final grade will be scaled from 30/30 to 18/30 based on the number of questions to which the student is able to answer and on her/his ability to integrate the topics with properties of scientific language. In particular, to obtain the minimum grade of 18/30 the student must show to have basic knowledge of all the contents discussed during the lessons and not be able to integrate them with properties of scientific language. The vote will be considered valid within the calendar year.

Teaching tools

The contents of the lectures and experimental laboratory will be presented using PowerPoint slides and will be discussed with the whole class through appropriate teaching supports. Students are encouraged to communicate to the teacher any requirements by e-mail as soon as possible. This will allow the teacher to evaluate which teaching support tools are most adequate to make the training course accessible to all students.

Office hours

See the website of Anna Maria Porcelli