SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMC125887
Module Leader Patricia Martin
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

-285 Good honours degree in a relevant discipline

Summary of Content

This module is designed to provide an in depth understanding of the 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 and their role in tissue turnover and renewal will be explored and events that modified these processes discussed. The role of cell to cell interactions and communication in normal tissue homeostasis and adaptive responses mediated by the inflammatory response will be explored. The module also highlights how proteins are sorted in cells to their final destination and provides insight into how viruses can utilise the host cell cytoskeletal networks.


Protein targeting (10 lectures ) Protein synthesis, processing, folding and degradation, organisation into sub-cellular compartments such as the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria or secretion to the extracellular environment; the molecular mechanisms controlling vesicular traffic and protein sorting pathways. Receptor-mediated endocytosis and sorting of internalised proteins. 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 Cell-Cell Interactions and communication - 10 lectures 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.), desmosomes and gap junction function. Components of the extracellular matrix 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-4 lectures Origins and properties of stem cells Epidermal stem cells, tissue turnover and renewal and wound healing

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Discuss the key events in protein targeting and secretion, including synthesis, processing, folding and degradation of proteins and their sub-cellular targeting to the endoplasmic reticulum, plasma membrane or extracellular space. 2. Explain 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.3. 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. 4. Discuss the role of role of integrins and the immunoglobulin superfamily in cell adhesive interactions and intercellular signalling via cytokines.5. Recognise the 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, renewal and wound.

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 and learning technologies such as Turning Point will be used. A Data analysis exercise will enable students to improve their understanding and interpretation of published scientific literature. 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. 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 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 by the oral presentation and 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
Independent Learning (FT) 106.00
Tutorials (FT) 10.00
Assessment (FT) 5.00
Lectures (FT) 30.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam (Dept) 02 2.00 20.00 45% Data Analysis
Exam (Exams Office) 3.00 60.00 45% Unseen written exam to test competence, answer 4 out of 6 questions.
Exam (Dept) 01 1.00 20.00 45% SCl and class essay