Biochemistry 2: Molecular Cell Biology

Module code: BS2092

Module co-ordinators: Dr Sue Shackleton and Dr Sally Prigent

In this module you will study cell ultrastructure including membrane structure, cytoskeletal networks and the synthesis and trafficking of intracellular and secreted proteins. You will also study the signalling pathways involved in cell communication, with particular reference to those that regulate metabolism and cell proliferation, together with the principles of cell cycle control in eukaryotes.

In studying the ultrastructure of the cell, we will look in particular at the subcellular localisation of proteins, protein-protein interactions, the dynamic properties of cellular components and cell cycle control. You will learn how antibodies are produced and explore their usefulness in experimental cell biology. We will look at how proteins and lipids are organised in membranes and how molecules are transported across membranes. We will also examine how membrane and secreted proteins are post-translationally processed and  targeted to different subcellular and extracellular locations.

We will explore the mechanisms by which cells communicate over short and long distances, the signalling pathways involved, and how these integrate extracellular signals to allow the regulation of complex cellular processes such as metabolism and cell proliferation. We will also look at microtubules, actin and intermediate filaments are their role in the maintenance of cell architecture and function.

Topics covered

  • Microscopy, introduction to biochemical techniques and the structure and function of the cell membrane
  • Intracellular membrane transport, protein sorting and secretion
  • Signal transduction mechanisms
  • Nuclear structure and the cytoskeleton
  • The eukaryotic cell division cycle


  • 30 one-hour lectures
  • 12 hours of practicals
  • 4 one-hour tutorials


  • Practical work (20%)
  • Essay (10%)
  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)