BIOL 408
RNA Worlds Spring 2025
Division III

Class Details

RNA is known best as the message cells use to turn genes into proteins. Yet investigations of several unusual genetic phenomena over the past few decades did not find protein-coding genes, but instead uncovered non-coding RNAs with a cornucopia of functions. Today, biologists have begun to develop a framework for how RNA’s non-coding functions play central roles in immune defense and genetic conflicts, in gene regulation and cancer. We will develop our own understanding of the power of small noncoding RNA to protect the genome and direct cellular processes through reading and discussion of primary scientific literature. We will learn how this emerging perspective of RNA’s non-coding functions helps to resolve genetic mysteries and has opened the door to RNA-based medications.
The Class: Format: seminar; discussion, three hours per week
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3161
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation and 4 three-page papers
Prerequisites: BIOL 202; open to juniors and seniors
Enrollment Preferences: senior Biology majors who have not taken a 400-level course
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: BIGP Courses
BIMO Interdepartmental Electives

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