BIOC 222: Proteins and Biotechnology

Proteins are drivers of all life processes. The diversity of protein structure and function, and how the shape of proteins determines their function. How biotechnology solves medical and industrial problems.

In this course we introduce students to the fundamental properties of proteins, with a focus on how ‘sequence determines structure’ and ‘structure determines function’.  We also explore the mechanisms by which cells control and modify protein function.  We examine how a protein’s lifetime is regulated and how a protein’s activity can be stimulated or repressed by different modifications.

The basic properties of enzymes are introduced and we study specific examples of catalysis.  How proteins and enzymes can be engineered, and the industrial application of enzymes and their use as drug targets are also be studied.  Common techniques used to study proteins are reviewed.  The course concludes by bringing together this knowledge using examples of specific new biotechnological processes and how these will influence medicine, agriculture and biodiversity.

The project-based, modular laboratory course reinforces the lecture material and provides hands on experience in molecular biology research.

Protein Structure and Function (6 lectures)

The fundamentals of protein structure; including properties if amino acids, protein folding, levels of proteins structure, protein families, analysis of protein structure, structure-function relationships, overview of protein structure determination, the Protein Data Bank.

Enzymes (6 lectures)

Examples – active sites and recognition. Enzyme kinetics, influence of temperature and pH. Examples of catalysis.

Protein Biotechnology (9 lectures)

Protein purification: chromatography based on chemistry, size and activity. Analysis of concentration and purity. Recombinant protein expression. Mutagenesis and example of protein engineering. Proteins and biotechnology/ industrial applications. Introduction to proteins as drug targets.

Protein Translocation and Turnover (5 lectures)

Mechanisms of protein localisation and turnover, including signal sequences, translocation machinery, ubiquitination and directed degradation.

Enzyme Function (5 lectures)

Control of enzyme activity, including concepts of allostery and cooperativity, covalent modification, modulation by ligands. Measurement of protein activation and binding. 

Paper prescription on the University website