Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOTECHNOLOGY
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Main course: 
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)

Basic knowledge of Biochemistry and notions of Genetics.
General concepts of Cell Biology.

Final Examination: 

The exam is designed to assess the knowledge and understanding of the theoretical foundations of Molecular Biology acquired by students, and will focus on the discussion of the topics covered during the course. It will consist in a written test: students will be required to answer five open-ended questions on topics that range throughout the program. The outcome will be of thirty. The exam is deemed passed with a vote of at least 18/30. Candidates who have obtained in the written test a score of 26 or above will be able to opt for an oral test aimed at achieving the maximum score.

Voto Finale

Subject Goals
The course addresses the molecular basis of the coding and transmission of genetic information and its biotechnological applications. It is part of the curriculum of the II year (II semester) and will allow the student to build upon and integrate the knowledge they acquired in genetics and biochemistry courses, which have introduced the structure and function of biological macromolecules.
The course provides a description of the molecular structure and function of nucleic acids. It aims to promote the acquisition of a solid, basic knowledge in Molecular Biology so that students can study and understand the molecular mechanisms that, in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, control the maintenance and the flow of genetic information. A further aim of the course is to allow students to become familiar with the main techniques used in this research field.

Learning Outcomes
Students who attend the course are asked to:
- understand the processes of replication, transcription and translation of the genetic material, as well as the regulation of gene expression and proteins synthesis;
-gain a solid understanding of the role of the genetic code as a universal information management system in living things.
- be able to apply the concepts they have learned to DNA manipulation techniques.
At the end of the course it is expected that students acquire the ability to learn, revise and supplement the concepts presented during the lessons through the use Molecular Biology textbooks, as well as to discuss them during the examination:
- ability to understand and discuss the role of the investigated processes at the cellular level;
- ability to translate and apply the concepts they have learned, as in the case of recombinant DNA techniques.

Lectures (6 CFU, 48 hours):
Introduction (0.5 CFU, 4 hours9
Introduction to biological macromolecules: DNA, RNA and proteins (hints of structures and functions)
DNA: structure and conformation; Mutations and physical and chemical mutagens
Introduction to Molecular Biology techniques (1 ECTS, 8 hours)
Molecular Biology techniques I: analysis of nucleic acids (electrophoresis, -Southern hybridization, Northern, in situ- hybridisation, sequencing), synthesis of oligonucleotides, PCR and qPCR (principles and applications), reverse transcriptase, the cDNA amplification messenger.
Molecular Biology techniques II: methylation and restriction, restriction enzymes and their use, basic principles of recombinant DNA (introduction to different carriers - plasmids, phages, cosmids, BAC, YAC- and cloning).
DNA and its replication (1.25 CFU, 10 hours)
Concept of gene; Organization of the genetic material in prokaryotes
Organization of the genetic material in eukaryotes: chromatin, nucleosomes, histones, chromosomes.
Semi-conservative replication of DNA: initiation, elongation and termination; Topoisomerase and telomerase; Prokaryotic and eukaryotic DNA polymerases
Recombination (homologous and specific site in prokaryotes and eukaryotes); Transposition
Molecular mechanisms of DNA repair in prokaryotes and eukaryotes - protein factors and enzyme activities involved
The RNA and the transcription (1 CFU, 8 hours)
RNA: structure, types of RNA and their abundance; Molecular mechanisms of transcription in prokaryotes; RNA polymerase; Transcriptional units
Molecular mechanisms of transcription in eukaryotes; RNA polymerase I, II and III; Specific promoters; Regulatory mechanisms (gene enhancers and silencers, chromatin remodeling)
Processing and maturation of eukaryotic RNA: hooding, polyadenylation and splicing introns, mRNA stability; Outlines to post-transcriptional modifications of rRNA and tRNA
Protein synthesis (1.25 CFU, 10 hours)
Ribosomes: rRNA and ribosomal protein structure and function
The synthesis of tRNA; Aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis and amino acyl-tRNA synthetase
Structure, properties and use of the genetic code; Codon-anticodon interaction
Gene information translation: protein synthesis (initiation, elongation, translocation and termination) in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
Regulatory mechanisms (1 CFU, 8 hours)
Introduction to the regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; Transcriptional regulation: regulatory proteins; Positive Control: lactose operon; Negative Control: tryptophan operon. The LAG system genes and eukaryotic transcriptional activators
Other levels of regulation: regulation of translation (general or specific); Phosphorylation eIF2 and global control of translation in eukaryotes; Regulatory RNAs in prokaryotes; RNAi; the molecular basis of RNA interference; microRNAs.

Slides of lectures can be downloaded from the Elearning site
Biologia Molecolare: principi e tecniche, M.M.Cox, Ed. Zanichelli, 2013
Biologia Molecolare del Gene, J.D. Watson Ed. Zanichelli, 2009
Il Gene X, B. Lewin, J. E. Krebs, E.S. Goldstein, S.T. Kilpatrick, Ed. Zanichelli, 2012
Fondamenti di Biologia Molecolare, L.A.Allison, Ed.Zanichelli, 2008
Biologia Molecolare, R.F. Weaver, Ed. Mc Graw-Hill, 2009


The course includes only lectures, during which the teaching topics will be treated by using presentations (with slides in English) projected in the classroom.

Office hours and mail address
Sialvia Sacchi is always available to receive students, preferably by appointment (via requests to the email She is also available for in-depth meetings or clarification on subjects covered in the course with groups of students, which will be agreed with the same mode.