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BIOL 410
Nanomachines in Living Systems Spring 2021
Division III

Class Details

Through reading and discussing the primary literature, this course will explore how nanometer-sized biological molecules like proteins perform functions that require integration of information and transmission of force at much larger scales, microns and above. These nanoscale proteins will be considered as nanomachines that can transform a chemical energy into a mechanical one. We will focus on the cytoskeleton, which gives cells their shape, organizes the internal parts of cells and provides mechanical support for essential cellular processes like cell division and movement. An emphasis will be placed on how the biochemical properties of actin, actin-binding proteins and motors are used to generate mechanical force necessary for the respective biological function. Topics will include some controversial and emerging hypotheses in the field: sliding versus depolymerizing hypotheses for constriction of the contractile ring in cytokinesis, roles of cytoskeleton in pathogen entry and propagation, organelle dynamics, polarity establishment in cell migration, immunological synapse and neuronal function.
The Class: Format: seminar; The course will have two sections: one is in-person and the other is remote. In-person discussion or via ZOOM, three hours per week
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 4816
Grading: no pass/fail option, no 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

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