The University of Southampton
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BIOL2012 Exploring Proteins: Structure and Function

Module Overview

The module will revise and extend the study of protein architecture, interactions and enzyme function. During the module we explain common concepts using specific systems. The case studies include studies of membrane ion channels, enzymes such as proteases, a number of blood proteins including haemoglobin, and antibodies. We also describe how proteomics can be used to characterise and quantitate multiple proteins in parallel, using extremely sensitive analytical techniques, and how this information can be used to obtain clues about the biological roles of proteins.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Proteins are at the heart of almost every biological process. They fulfil an astounding array of diverse functions. Antibodies are masters in recognising other molecules and enzymes speed up reactions many orders of magnitude, to name just two examples that you will encounter in the module. Without understanding proteins modern biology would be inconceivable. We are introducing you to protein architecture and function as well as the complex regulatory networks that proteins form and that govern most aspects of cellular biology. We have learned how to study individual proteins and their complexes in exquisite detail, and will introduce cutting edge techniques in structural biology and proteomics. The aim of the module is to build on the concepts presented in year I and to provide an understanding of proteins and their roles in cell biology, physiology and medicine to prepare for some of the advanced topics in the final year.  

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • You will be able to explain the scope and relevance of protein science.
  • You will be able to critically read scientific publications that deal with structural biology and proteomics
  • You will be able to access, use and evaluate the information available in protein databases to find out about a protein of interest
  • You will be able to recognize and describe the architecture of proteins
  • You will be able to relate chemical and physical properties of proteins to their function.
  • You will be able to explain key concepts in protein function such as affinity and specificity, allosteric regulation.
  • Using your new knowledge you will be able to investigate a protein of choice regarding its structure and function as well as its cellular context.
  • You will be able to interpret simple mass spectra of peptides and to derive amino acid sequence information.

Syllabus

The module will revise and extend the study of protein architecture, interactions and enzyme function. During the module we explain common concepts using specific systems. The case studies include studies of membrane ion channels, enzymes such as proteases, a number of blood proteins including haemoglobin, and antibodies. We also describe how proteomics can be used to characterise and quantitate multiple proteins in parallel, using extremely sensitive analytical techniques, and how this information can be used to obtain clues about the biological roles of proteins.

Special Features

In place of practicals, this module incorporates a compulsory library project that will contribute 25% towards the final assessment. You should spend from 12-16 hours researching for this project. You should then prepare a typewritten and illustrated dissertation in the form of a scientific review paper. The aim of this is to collect information from a range of sources and to convey the essence of the subject, briefly but forcefully, to the reader at the highest level. Concurrent with the lectures there will be sets of computer based questions - in a driving test style - that you have to complete. These are straight forward factual knowledge questions that will help you to consolidate prior and newly acquired knowledge and reinforce concepts presented in the lectures. You can do them with “open book” in you own time and as many times as you wish. You will have immediate feedback on your results and they are not marked except that correct answers to all questions will give you 5% of your final mark. It is recommended that you do them alongside the appropriate lectures.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, library project and computer questionnaires.

TypeHours
Independent Study122
Lecture24
Tutorial4
Total study time150

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Computer-based questionnaires 5%
Library project 25%
Written exam  (2 hours) 70%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Written exam  (2 hours) 70%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: BIOL1007 OR BIOL1010

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