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 4 open-ended questions (from 6 to 8 score maximum each) and 5 multiple choice questions (0.8 score each) 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 24 or above will be able to opt for an oral test aimed at improving their score.

Voto Finale

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 features and properties of biological macromolecules.
The course provides a description of the molecular structure and function of nucleic acids, as well as of protein factors and enzymatic activity involved in replication, transcription and translation processes and their regulation. 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.
Concerning the learning aoutcomes, 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 to biological macromolecules
Molecular Biology techniques
DNA: levels of structural organization and their significance
DNA replication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes
DNA repair mechanisms in prokaryotes and eukaryotes
Homologous recombination
Site-specific recombination and Transposition
RNA and transcription
Processing and maturation of eukaryotic RNA
Protein synthesis
Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes

Lectures (6 CFU, 48 hours):
Introduction (0.5 CFU, 4 hours)
Introduction to biological macromolecules: Initial studies on DNA, RNA and proteins; Definition of the central dogma.
DNA: structure and conformation; Topoisomerases.
Molecular Biology techniques (0.75 CFU, 6 hours)
Plasmids, bacteriophages, viruses; Preparation and analysis of nucleic acids; Enzymes for DNA and RNA manipulation.
Cloning and cloning and expression vectors; Transformation and selection.
PCR: basic principles, RT-PCR and sequencing.
DNA: levels of structural organization and their significance (0.25 CFU, 2 hours)
Role of histones, nucleosomes, chromatin and chromosomes.
DNA replication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes (0.5 CFU, 4 hours)
The replicon model and replication origins; DNA polymerases (catalyzed reactions, accuracy and fidelity).
The replication fork and the replisome complex; Initiation, elongation, termination and their regulation.
DNA repair mechanisms in prokaryotes and eukaryotes (0.5 CFU, 4 hours)
Mutations and chromosomic alterations; Direct repair, BER, NER, mismatch repair, Tolerance mechanisms.
Homologous recombination (0.25 CFU, 2 hours)
Replication models; Recombination in DNA lesions repair.
Site-specific recombination and Transposition (0.25 CFU, 2 hours)
Mechanisms, involved protein factors and enzymatic activities; Transposons and retrotransposons.
RNA and transcription (1 CFU, 8 hours)
RNA: types and structure; Molecular mechanisms in prokaryotes transcription; RNA polymerase: structure/function; Promoters; Steps in the transcription process.
Molecular mechanisms in eukaryotes transcription; RNA polymerase I, II and III; Specific promoters; Steps in the transcription process.
Introduction to regulation mechanisms in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; Cis and trans regulation elements; The operon concept, negative and positive regulation; DNA binding motifs in regulatory proteins; Gene enhancers and silencers; Chromatin remodeling.
Processing and maturation of eukaryotic RNA (0.5 CFU, 4 hours)
mRNA maturation: capping, polyadenylation and splicing of introns; Outlines to post-transcriptional modifications of rRNA and tRNA.
RNA editing, transport and stability.
Protein synthesis (1 CFU, 8 hours)
Ribosomes: rRNA and ribosomal protein structure and function; Aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis and amino acyl-tRNA synthetase.
Structure, properties and use of the genetic code; Codon-anticodon interaction (wobbling and degeneration)
Gene information translation: initiation, elongation, translocation and termination in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
Post-translational modifications of proteins.
Regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes (0.5 CFU, 4 hours)
Transcriptional regulation: lactose operon and tryptophan operon. The GAL 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: struttura e dinamica di genomi e proteomi; J. Zlatanova, K.E. van Holde, Ed. Zanichelli, 2018
Biologia Molecolare: principi e tecniche, M.M.Cox; Ed. Zanichelli, 2013
Biologia Molecolare (terza edizione); F. Amaldi, P. Benedetti, G. Pesole, P. Plevani, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, 2017
Fondamenti di Biologia Molecolare, L.A.Allison, Ed.Zanichelli, 2008
Biologia Molecolare, R.F. Weaver, Ed. Mc Graw-Hill, 2009.
Biotecnologie Molecolari (seconda edizione); T.A. Brown, Ed Zanichelli, 2017


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

Silvia 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.