SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHC123470
Module Leader Patricia Martin
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Oranisation of the cell, protein synthesis and assembly, Biomolecular Processes - achieved largely through successful completion of modules: CAB, Fundamental Cell Biology and Cell Signalling & Trafficking.

Summary of Content

This module is designed to provide an in depth understanding of organisation of cells into complex tissue, the role of the cytoskeleton in maintaining tissue integrity and determining cell polarity. Processes involved in cell commitment including the origins and properties of stem cells, their role in tissue turnover and renewal and early development will be explored. The role of cell to cell interactions and communication in normal tissue homeostasis and adaptive responses mediated by the inflammatory response will be discussed. The module also highlights how pathogens, including certain viruses and bacterial toxins utilise cellular networks and influence cellular integrity.


Cytoskeleton and molecular motors - 6 lectures Structure and organisation of the cytoskeleton, Components and structural functions (role of microtubules, tubulins, actin filaments), Organisation of cytoskeletal filaments (including assembly and disassembly), Dynamics of actin assembly - changes in cell shape and intracellular movements, Cell locomotion (including responses to chemotactic molecules), Intermediate filaments - formation of supportive structures, Microtubule dynamics - polarity, cytoplasmic organelles and vesicles, Motor proteins - kinesins etc. to include their role in mitosis, Determination of cell polarity Protein targeting 2 lectures Advanced topics in protein targeting and secretion with a focus on receptor mediated endocytosis of specific bacterial toxins. Cell-Cell Interactions and communication Cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion; organisation of cells into tissues (general overview); Structure and function of intercellular junctions (tight, anchoring, gap); Ca2+ dependent cell adhesion molecules: homophilic cell-cell adhesion (cadherins etc.) Components of the extracellular matrix, epithelial secretions Cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions (role of integrins); Cell-cell adhesion - role of immunoglobulin superfamily; Leukocyte movement into tissues - role of adhesive interactions and intercellular signalling via cytokines Cell commitment Epithelial stem cells, tissue turnover and renewal Asymmetric cell division and early development

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Recognise the role of the cytoskeletal network in maintaining cellular integrity, the dynamics of cellular motors and how cells determine their polarity within a tissue network and during early development.2. Describe the organisation of cells into complex tissue and to compare and contrast the junctions that help maintain tissue architecture including interaction with the extracellular matrix. Appreciate how pathogens and disease states can interfere with this balance.3. Discuss the key events in protein targeting and secretion and have an understanding of receptor mediated endocytosis of bacterial toxins.4. Evaluate the role of role of integrins and the immunoglobulin superfamily in cell adhesive interactions and intercellular signalling via cytokines.5. Discuss aspects of intercellular signalling events mediated via gap junctions and cytokines6. Explain our current understanding of the origins and properties of stem cells with a focus on epithelial stem cells relating to tissue turnover and renewal and early development.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Lectures will be used to deliver the core material. To encourage independent learning all lecture material will be provided on GCU Learn with associated revision questions. Tutorials will be held to encourage students to discuss, evaluate and consolidate their knowledge. To develop and encourage students' abilities to perform literature searches and improve their data retrieval skills an essay title will be set that will be written under exam conditions. It is expected that students will make wide use of literature data base searches to consolidate recent research events in the areas covered by the lectures.

Indicative Reading

Cooper GM and Hausman RE (2009) The Cell: a Molecular Approach. (5E) ASM Press Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6 th edition (2015), Garland Science -359 In addition students will be provided with selected topical references to original and review articles as a basis for essay questions

Transferrable Skills

Students will further develop personal transferrable skills including independent working, critical reading, information retrieval, IT skills and data handling. Consolidation of communication skills will be provided by written work and oral communication skills developed through group activities in tutorial discussions. A comprehensive student centred learning package will further encourage independent learning and information retrieval.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 8.00
Assessment (FT) 5.00
Independent Learning (FT) 161.00
Lectures (FT) 26.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 2.00 15.00 n/a Short Class Tests x 2
Course Work 02 1.00 15.00 n/a Essay
Exam 01 3.00 70.00 35% Unseen written exam: 3 questions out of 6