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Principles of Cell Biology

East Baltimore
2nd term
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
3 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
Class Times:
  • W F,  9:00 - 10:20am
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor :
Michael Matunis

Introductory courses in Genetics and/or Molecular and Cell Biology (such as 120.602). Students should also have a basic understanding of molecular genetics (i.e. the roles of DNA and RNA in protein synthesis) and a basic understanding of protein structure and function.


Provides students with a basic understanding of the architecture and function of eukaryotic cells. In addition to introducing students to new facts and vocabulary pertinent to cell biology, also introduces students to experimental methods used by scientists to define and understand cell structure and function. Relationships between defects in basic cell function and human diseases are also highlighted. Classroom time is divided into formal lecture time as well as less formal discussion/problem solving sessions organized around “landmark” papers in cell biology and designed to review scientific methods, central concepts in cell biology and develop critical thinking.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the intracellular organelles of eukaryotic cells and describe their functions
  2. Design experiments to study individual proteins by light or electron microscopy
  3. Design experiments to fractionate and characterize different membrane-bound organelles
  4. Describe the proteins and mechanisms regulating ion and small molecule transport across membranes
  5. Define the functions of the ER and the mechanisms regulating ER translocation and protein modification within the ER
  6. Design and interpret experiments aimed at studying protein sorting and translocation into sub-cellular organelles
  7. Describe the molecules and mechanisms regulating vesicular transport and protein secretion
  8. Design experiments to study protein transport and targeting in the endocytic pathway
  9. Describe the molecules and pathways involved in relaying signals from the cell surface to the nucleus
  10. Describe the structures and properties of the major proteins that make up the cytoskeleton and their individual functions
  11. Describe the dynamics of actin assembly and the mechanisms of actin-myosin based movement
  12. Describe the dynamics of microtubule assembly and the mechanisms of actin- myosin based movement
  13. Define the structure and function of intermediate filaments
  14. Describe the structures and functions of the major molecules mediating cell-cell interactions and tissue formation
Methods of Assessment:

Course assessment consists of class participation and two closed-book in-class exams, one given after the first seven lectures and one given after the second seven lectures. The second exam covers the second half of the course only and is not inclusive of the first exam material. Exam questions will be primarily short answer, problem-solving questions. Each exam will count for 45% of the final grade, class participation will count for 10%. Final grades will be determined based on the class average.

Instructor Consent:

No consent required