BIOL 436
Metabolites as Messengers Fall 2023
Division III
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Class Details

Beyond the genome, transcriptome, and proteome is the metabolome, the suite of small-molecule metabolites present in a biological sample. These molecules are not simply the products of the proteome nor a collection of cellular fuels and wastes. In this seminar, we will investigate metabolites as signals that influence cellular processes. Biochemistry and molecular biology textbooks often emphasize the proteins that mediate cellular communication. Of course, specialized metabolites like neurotransmitters and certain hormones are well known to regulate information flow between cells. But what about molecules that participate in the metabolic processes of almost every cell–how can these intermediary metabolites be used as signals? How do they communicate acutely and with specificity? What role do they play in sensing (or promoting) environmental change? And how can metabolites be regulated to override their typical fates in metabolic pathways and serve as signals? We’ll examine these questions and more at the levels of inter-organellar, intercellular, and inter-organismal metabolic communication by reading the primary scientific literature together. Familiarity with typical mechanisms of cellular communication and/or physiology (BIOL 205) is recommended but not required.
The Class: Format: seminar; Discussion, three hours per week
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1054
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation and three to five papers of length 3-5 pages each
Prerequisites: BIOL 222 or 322; open to juniors and seniors
Enrollment Preferences: senior Biology majors who have not taken a 400-level course
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: BIMO Interdepartmental Electives

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