Science at the heart of medicine

7007 Gene Expression: Beyond the Double Helix

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course deals with molecular mechanisms of biological information content. Specifically the course will tackle the question of how the information contained within DNA, RNA, and chromatin is stored and used in different biological contexts. The major focus is on the molecular mechanisms of the regulation of gene expression and their impact on cellular functions. Topics include: the genome and DNA, the biochemistry of DNA transcription into RNA, biochemistry of chromatin and the histone code, regulation of transcription and of chromatin structure, its modification and role in epigenetic phenomena; metabolism of the major cellular classes of RNA, emphasizing transcription, processing, stability/degradation, and translation of messenger RNA into protein and control at each of these steps; the role of RNA-mediated catalysis in biology and evolution; the biology and biochemistry of non-coding RNA and the use of RNAi as an experimental and therapeutic tool.


PREREQUISITES: Undergraduate course in molecular biology at the level of Alberts “Molecular Biology of the Cell” and 1st Block Graduate Biochemistry.

STUDENT PREPARATION: Students should be familiar with nucleic acid structure, college-level genetics, graduate biochemistry level protein structure/function.


UNIQUE TRAINING OFFERED IN THIS COURSE: This course uniquely targets molecular mechanisms of the storage of biological information in nucleic acids and chromatin and the utilization of this biological information through transcription, RNA processing, and translation. Modest overlap with graduate biochemistry and molecular genetics is expected and useful.

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: Three take-home exams (80% total), and weekly student-led paper discussions and problem sets (20%).