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Unit information: Macromolecular Structure, Dynamics and Function in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Macromolecular Structure, Dynamics and Function
Unit code BIOC20002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jo Adams
Open unit status Not open

BIOC10100, BIOC10001, BIOC10002



School/department School of Biochemistry
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The unit develops material introduced in the Level C/4 units, Biochemistry 1G, Biological Chemistry 1A and Biological Chemistry 1B.

It covers the structure of proteins and how they are studied experimentally, how cells extract energy from their surroundings, how energy is utilised to power molecular motors and the movement of molecules around the cell, and how molecular motors are used in cellular activities and structures.

Teaching is delivered through lectures, practical sessions and data handling workshops.

The unit develops understanding the following areas:

Element 1. Structural Basis of Disease

  • The viral life cycle and drug development
  • Use of genome sequences
  • Structure-based drug design and X-ray crystallography
  • Recombinant protein expression
  • Development of drug resistance
  • Challenges of deducing structures of membrane proteins

Element 2. Powering Biological Systems

  • Proton-coupled redox reactions
  • The generation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species
  • Roles of redox reactions in biology
  • Mitochondria and the production of ATP
  • Photosynthesis in plants and bacteria
  • Structures and dynamics of transporters

Element 3. Molecules in Motion

  • Kinesin motors
  • Myosin motors
  • Dyenin motors
  • Flagella and chemotaxis
  • Microtubule dynamics and functions

The unit aims to develop the following skills:

  • Competency in biochemical techniques in the practical laboratory
  • Numeracy and the ability to complete calculations based on protein purification, bioenergetics and redox potential
  • The ability to research and describe a particular area of Biochemistry in written form.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to demonstrate the following:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of soluble and membrane proteins, and the techniques available for their study.
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding drug design
  3. Knowledge and understanding of reactive oxygen species
  4. Knowledge and understanding of how cells extract energy from their surroundings to form ATP.
  5. Knowledge and understanding of secondary transport
  6. Knowledge and understanding of how ATP is used to power diverse molecular motors
  7. Knowledge and understanding of the functions of microtubules
  8. The ability to perform calculations based on protein purification and enzyme kinetics.
  9. The ability to perform calculations based on redox potential and solute transport.
  10. Knowledge and understanding of the techniques used in the practical sessions.
  11. The ability to research a specific biochemical topic using textbooks and the scientific literature and to present findings in a written format.

Teaching Information


Data handling workshops


Assessment Information

The overall mark for the unit will be determined as follows:

  • Assessed essay (1500 word limit) (10%)
  • Practicals (written laboratory reports and post-lab quiz) (10%)
  • Three hour summative end of unit examination consisting MCQs, data handling questions and essays (80%)

Opportunities for formative feedback will be available for the practical reports, assessed essays and data handling workshops.

Intended learning outcomes will be assessed as follows:

  • Learning outcomes 1-6 will primarily assessed through the three hour summative assessment.
  • Learning outcomes 1-6 and 10 will also be assessed through the assessed essay.
  • Learning outcomes 7 and 9 will be assessed through written laboratory reports.
  • Learning outcomes 7 and 8 will be assessed through the three hour summative assessment.

Students achieving an overall mark for the unit between 30 and 39% will be awarded credit points if they satisfy both of the following criteria:

  • The student must have a satisfactory attendance record for the practicals and workshops and have completed all course work associated with these sessions.
  • The student must have satisfactorily completed the assessed essay and submitted it by the appropriate deadline.

Reading and References

Recommended reading includes the most recent editions of:

  • Voet & Voet, Biochemistry, Wiley
  • Berg et al, Biochemistry, Freeman
  • Nicholls and Ferguson, Bioenergetics 4, Academic Press
  • Creighton, Proteins: Structures and Molecular Properties, Freeman

Students will also be expected to read a number of relevant review articles in the scientific literature.