MCB 150
The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Life
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign |
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About MCB 150

Course Objectives

Activity: Pre-Class Questions in Mastering Biology Objectives…

By completing this activity you will be able to…

come to each class period prepared for the basic concepts that will be discussed and demonstrate your understanding of these concepts.

Activity: Post-Class Questions in Mastering Biology Objectives…

By completing this activity you will be able to…

answer higher order thinking questions based on your attendance/participation in the previous class period and demonstrate your mastery of the course concepts for that class period.

Activity: Discussion Objectives…

By completing this activity you will be able to…

further investigate lecture concepts by practicing problem sets directly related to class material and participate in active discussion with your peers about these concepts.  During discussion sections you will also apply your understanding of lecture concepts to real life issues such as stem cell research, epidemics/pandemics, and ethics.

Activity: In-Class Questions in Learning Catalytics

By completing this activity you will be able to…

actively engage in class by answering questions as they are addressed.

Activity: Lecture Objectives…

By completing this activity you will be able to…

explain the chemical context of life

  • Explain how complex molecules can be built from many atoms by covalent bonds.
  • Relate how the structure of water leads to hydrogen bonds.
  • Describe water's various properties.
  • Explain the nature of acids and bases, and their relationship to pH.

describe cell structure and organization in eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea

  • Describe the organization of prokaryotic cells.
  • Distinguish between bacterial and archaeal cell types.
  • Compare the organization and classification of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells.
  • Explain the concept of horizontal gene transfer.
  • Describe the roles of eukaryotic organelles and identify their basic structure.

demonstrate your understanding of macromolecules, their functional groups, and their functions in the cell

  • Describe the relationship between functional groups and macromolecules.
  • List the different kinds of biological macromolecules.
  • Describe the structure of a sugar.
  • Name the different forms of carbohydrate molecules.
  • Relate the structure of polysaccharides to their functions.
  • Describe the possible levels of protein structure.
  • Understand the relationship between amino acid sequence and the three-dimensional structure of a protein.
  • Discuss the specificity of enzymes.
  • Explain how enzymes bind to their substrates.
  • List the factors that influence the rate of enzyme-catalyzed reactions.
  • Compare the different types of enzyme inhibitors.
  • Describe the structure of nucleotides.
  • Compare and contrast the structures of DNA and RNA.
  • Explain the functions of DNA and RNA.
  • Recognize other nucleotides involved in energy metabolism.
  • Understand the structure of triglycerides.
  • Explain how fats function as energy-storage molecules.
  • Apply knowledge of the structure of phospholipids to the formation of membranes.
  • Describe the components of biological membranes.
  • Explain the fluid mosaic model of membrane structure.
  • List the different components of phospholipids.
  • Explain how membranes form spontaneously.
  • Describe the factors involved in membrane fluidity.
  • List the functions of membrane proteins.
  • Explain how proteins can associate with the membrane.
  • Identify a transmembrane domain.

explain the pathways of metabolism from glucose to ATP production

  • Explain the kinds of reactions that make up metabolism.
  • Discuss what is meant by a metabolic pathway.
  • Characterize oxidationdehydrogenation reactions in biological systems.
  • Understand the role of electron carriers in energy metabolism.
  • Describe the role of ATP in biological systems.
  • Describe the process of glycolysis.
  • Calculate the energy yield from glycolysis.
  • Distinguish between aerobic respiration and fermentation.
  • Explain how the oxidation of pyruvate joins glycolysis with the Krebs cycle.
  • Describe the three segments and nine reactions of the Krebs cycle.
  • Explain the fate of the electrons produced by the Krebs cycle.
  • Describe the structure and function of the electron transport chain.
  • Understand how the proton gradient connects electron transport with ATP synthesis.
  • Calculate the number of ATP molecules produced by aerobic respiration.
  • Understand the concept of control points for cellular respiration.
  • Compare anaerobic and aerobic respiration.
  • Distinguish the role of fermentation in anaerobic metabolism.
  • Identify the points at which proteins and fats enter energy metabolism.
  • Describe the linkages between catabolic and anabolic pathways.
  • Describe one possible hypothesis for the evolution of metabolism.

understand the cell theory and the organization of DNA

  • Evaluate the evidence for DNA as genetic material.
  • Describe the data available to Watson and Crick.
  • Explain the details of the Watson and Crick structure.
  • Explain the importance of complementarity for DNA structure and function.
  • Describe the denaturation, annealing, and melting temperature of DNA.
  • Explain the difference between euchromatin and heterochromatin.
  • Explain the various levels of chromatin organization in bacteria and eukaryotes.
  • Describe the structure and function of histones.
  • Describe how chromatin structure can affect gene expression.

analyze DNA replication: the mechanism, the requirements, and distinguish the functional differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

  • Explain the basic mechanism of DNA replication.
  • Describe the requirements for DNA replication.
  • Describe the functions of E. coli DNA polymerases.
  • Explain why replication is discontinuous on one strand.
  • Diagram the functions found at the replication fork.
  • Compare eukaryotic replication with prokaryotic.

analyze transcription: the process, the key players, and understand the differences in eukaryotes and bacteria

  • Describe the transcription process in bacteria.
  • Differentiate features of initiation from those of elongation.
  • Define the unique features of prokaryotic transcription.
  • List the different eukaryotic RNA polymerases.
  • Distinguish between the promoters of the RNA polymerases.
  • Define the processing that occurs to eukaryotic transcripts.
  • Describe the splicing reaction for pre-mRNA.

distinguish between transcription and translation and the nature/role of genes in the cell

  • Illustrate how splicing changes the nature of genes.
  • Distinguish between transcription and translation.
  • List the roles played by RNA in gene expression.
  • Summarize the experiments that revealed the genetic code.
  • Describe the characteristics of the genetic code.
  • Identify the relationship between codons and amino acids.
  • Explain why the tRNA charging reaction is critical to translation.
  • Identify the tRNA-binding sites in the ribosome.
  • Distinguish between translation initiation and elongation.
  • Explain the elongation cycle.

describe the different forms of DNA repair and the effects of mutations

  • Explain why DNA repair is critical for cells.
  • Describe the different forms of DNA repair.
  • Describe the effects of different point mutations.
  • List the different chromosomal mutations and their effects.

analyze the organization of the nucleus

  • Explain the techniques of FISH and chromosome painting.
  • Describe how DNA replication is organized within the nucleus.
  • Describe how transcription and RNA processing are organized within the nucleus.
  • Explain how ribosomal RNAs are transcribed and processed.
  • Describe the organization of the nucleolus.
  • Describe the detailed structure of the nucleus.
  • Explain the function of the nuclear lamina.
  • Explain the structure and function of nuclear pore complexes.
  • Describe how proteins and RNA molecules are imported and exported into and out of the nucleus.

examine transport mechanisms of the cell

  • Explain the endosymbiotic theory.
  • Identify genes on the human mitochondrial genome.
  • Trace the fate of mitochondrial proteins coded for on nuclear genes.
  • Determine the possible fates of proteins based on the site of their synthesis.
  • Describe a pulse-chase experiment, and why such an experiment would be conducted.
  • Identify the protein secretory pathway.
  • List the primary functions of the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER).
  • Explain the signal hypothesis.
  • Describe how proteins are targeted to and translated into the RER.
  • Explain how transmembrane proteins are inserted into a biological membrane.
  • Identify the orientation of a transmembrane protein based on the targeting signals present, or vice versa.
  • Describe the process of glycosylation in the lumen of the RER.
  • Describe the formation of GPI-anchored proteins in the lumen of the RER.
  • Describe lipid synthesis and metabolism in the SER.
  • Describe the process of vesicle traffic from one membrane to another membrane within the secretory pathway.
  • Identify the structure and related functions of the Golgi apparatus.
  • Compare and contrast animal cell Golgi with plant cell Golgi.
  • Describe the various types of protein and lipid modifications that occur in the Golgi apparatus.
  • Describe the structure and contents of a lysosome.
  • Describe the maturation of a lysosome from a vesicle brought into the cell via endocytosis.
  • Compare and contrast autophagy and phagocytosis.

explain the role of a cell’s cytoskeleton,  the important players, and how they work together

  • Describe the primary components of a eukaryotic cell's cytoskeleton.
  • Explain the need for a cytoskeleton.
  • Describe the structure of G-actin and how it is polymerized into F-actin.
  • Explain the concept of the critical concentration of an F-actin filament.
  • List the primary uses of F-actin in a cell and provide examples of each.
  • Describe the structure and function of a microvillus.
  • Explain the cycle of motor protein movement along a cytoskeletal element.
  • Describe how actin and myosin are used to carry out cytokinesis.
  • Explain the process of cell crawling.
  • List the zones, bands and regions in a sarcomere, and describe what changes occur during muscle contraction.
  • Describe the structure of tubulin and how it is polymerized into microtubules.
  • Compare and contrast the in vivo and in vitro behavior of microtubules with regard to polymerization and depolymerization.
  • Compare and contrast the uses of microtubules during interphase and M-phase.
  • Explain the concept of a GTP cap in microtubule polymerization and depolymerization.
  • Describe dynamic instability of microtubules.
  • Explain the action of laboratory and medical chemicals in affecting the state of a cell's microtubules.
  • Describe the formation of new microtubules, and identify where this happens.
  • Compare and contrast the structures of centrioles, basal bodies, and axonemes.
  • Describe how and why microtubules might be released from a centrosome.
  • Describe the structure and movement of an axoneme.

identify and explain the events of the cell cycle

  • Outline the Cell Cycle and identify the events occurring in each phase.
  • Explain how to analyze the phase of the cell cycle that a given cell is in based on DNA content.
  • List the stages of M-phase and describe the events occurring in each stage.
  • Explain the breakdown and reformation of the nucleus during mitosis.
  • Compare and contrast anaphase A and anaphase B.

understand the importance of controlled gene expression using the lac operon

  • Compare how control by induction differs from control by repression.
  • Explain control of gene expression in the lac operon.

describe the structures found in viruses, the life cycle of a virus, and an in-depth look at HIV/AIDS

  • Describe the different structures found in viruses.
  • Understand the basic mechanism of viral replication.
  • Distinguish between lytic and lysogenic cycles in bacteriophage.
  • Describe how viruses can contribute DNA to their hosts.
  • Explain how the HIV virus compromises the immune system.
  • Describe the disease AIDS.
Illustrate the different therapeutic options for AIDS.