Genetics: Evolution and Gene Expression

Module code: NT4003

'Evolutionary Genetics' gives you an introductory overview of the genetic basis for the evolution of genes, genomes, and phenotypes from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. This module will investigate the evolution of life from the RNA world and beyond. By exploring evolutionary histories of gene regulation with particular reference to developmental and behavioural genes in humans, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role that evolution plays in the diversity and maintenance of different life forms.

'Gene Expression' follows the expression of protein-coding genes by looking at the environment of a gene in the nucleus, transcription, the processing of mRNA and production of multiple mRNA sequences from each gene, export of mRNA into the cytoplasm, proof-reading of mRNA, to the regulation by small RNA molecules. At all of these stages, we examine the mechanisms by which the level is controlled and fidelity maintained, and we address the origins of disease when these mechanisms fail. This module will give a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms of gene expression and its control, in mammals, to enable you to pursue independent study in this area. This module emphasises the role of creative thought and rigorous tests of hypotheses in science. You'll also learn how to appraise published work and become more independent in your planning and interpretation of experimental approaches.

Topics covered

  • Origin of Life
  • Genetic diversity and evolution
  • Gene duplication, phylogeny and capacitance in evolution
  • Evolutionary pressures that gave rise to modern humans
  • Homeobox genes
  • Control and molecular mechanisms of gene expression in mammals
  • Perturbation of gene expression in disease
  • Mass extinction events and evolution of new biota

Learning

  • 47 hours of lectures
  • 16 hours of seminars
  • 7 hours of tutorials
  • 15 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 3 hours of supervised time in lab/studio/workshop
  • 212 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Exam, 2 ½ hours (30%)
  • Exam, 3 hours (30%)
  • Coursework (20%)
  • Poster synopsis and critical review (10%)
  • Debate content and performance (10%)