Module code: BS2009

Module co-ordinators: Professor Raymond Dalgleish and Professor Annette Cashmore

In this module you will learn how the techniques of modern molecular biology are being applied to investigate the organisation, evolution and maintenance of the integrity of genomes, including hands-on experience of some of these techniques in practical sessions. We will consider a wide range of genomes including those of bacteria, yeast, Drosophila and humans. You will study how prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes are organised and the mechanisms that influence genome organisation and diversity. We will also explore the basic processes of DNA replication and recombination.

Practical sessions will give you first-hand experience in the construction and analysis of gene libraries and in restriction enzyme mapping of genomes. In the tutorials and group sessions we will study:

  • Cloning genes by complementation in yeast
  • Design of experimental strategies to produce medically important proteins using recombinant DNA techniques
  • Computer-based analysis of DNA and protein sequences
  • DNA sequencing reactions

Topics covered

  • Prokaryotic genomes: organisation of the principal components of prokaryotic genomes, i.e. the chromosome, plasmids, bacteriophages and mobile genetic elements
  • Organisation of eukaryotic genomes: structure and composition of eukaryotic chromosomes; mitochondrial genomes; genome organisation, simple sequences and repetitive DNA including functional repetitive sequences such as transposable elements, ribosomal RNA genes and tRNA genes
  • Organisation of protein-coding genes in higher eukaryotes: introns and the mechanism of splicing; organisation and evolution of gene clusters and gene families, e.g. the globin genes
  • Molecular and genome evolution: genome flux due to mechanisms such as unequal crossing over and transposition; effect of such processes on evolution and biology of genes
  • Replication, recombination and repair: discontinuous DNA replication and its fidelity, including proof-reading and mismatch repair mechanisms
  • Sequencing of microbial genomes: strategies and approaches for genome sequencing; comparative genomics and analysis of gene function
  • Sequencing of the human genome: problems associated with mapping and sequencing large genomes; whole-genome sequencing and whole-exome sequencing; the Human Genome Project


  • 27 one-hour lectures
  • 18 hours of practicals
  • 10 one-hour tutorials


  • Exam (70%)
  • 2 practical reports + 1 tutorial report (30%)