BIOL 414
Life at Extremes: Molecular Mechanisms Spring 2019
Division III
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All organisms face variability in their environments, and the molecular and cellular responses to stresses induced by environmental change often illuminate otherwise hidden facets of normal physiology. Moreover, many organisms have evolved unique molecular mechanisms, such as novel cellular compounds or macromolecular structural modifications, which contribute to their ability to survive continuous exposure to extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or low pH. This course will examine how chaperonins, proteases, and heat- and cold-shock proteins are regulated in response to changes in the external environment. We will then consider how these and other molecular mechanisms function to stabilize DNA and proteins- and, ultimately, cells and organisms. Other extreme environments, such as hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, snow fields, hypersaline lakes, the intertidal zone, and acid springs provide further examples of cellular and molecular responses to extreme conditions. Biotechnological applications of these molecular mechanisms in areas such as protein engineering will also be considered. Class discussions will focus upon readings from the primary literature.
The Class: Type: discussion, three hours per week
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3353
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation and several short papers
Prerequisites: BIOL 202; open to juniors and seniors
Enrollment Preferences: senior Biology majors who have not taken a 400-level course; then juniors
Unit Notes: does not satisfy the distribution requirement for the Biology major
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: BIMO Interdepartmental Electives
MAST Interdepartmental Electives

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