Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session
Recommended prerequisites are:
7.05 General Biochemistry
7.06 Cell Biology
7.28 Molecular Biology
All organisms are composed of cells. These cells, regardless of whether they are in an organ in the human body or a component of a bacterial colony, can sense the chemical composition of the environment, the presence of neighboring cells, and even the types of their neighboring cells. Depending on the identity of a cell and the information it receives from its environment, it can grow (increase in size), proliferate (make more cells), become quiescent (stop growing and dividing), differentiate (make different types of cells), or die. Failure of cells to properly respond to their environmental signals can lead to a loss of fitness and competitive advantage for the organism, inability to regenerate tissue loss, or to a disease, such as cancer or diabetes. How cells achieve the astonishing feat of appropriately sensing and responding to their environment has been a major question in biology.
In this course we will read and critically discuss the primary scientific literature with the goal of highlighting the basic principles of cell growth, adaptation, and differentiation. We will cover diverse examples of the responses of cells to environmental stimuli and the mechanisms cells use in such responses. We will discuss how bacteria count their number and differentiate only when a "quorum" is present, how cells respond to starvation by performing specialized cell divisions, how cells control their growth in response to nutrients and hormones, how different cell types from the same organism respond to the same stimulus differently, how loss of proper growth control leads to cancer and a variety of other topics. We will pay special attention to the techniques and approaches that have allowed investigators to address these various issues. Towards the end of the course, we will visit a research lab and observe first-hand some of the techniques and instruments we have learned about from our readings and discussions.
The goals of this course are to learn to critically read and discuss primary scientific literature, and to gain better understanding of how cells respond to their environmental stimuli.
This class will meet once a week for two hours. The format of this course will be to engage students in a critical and detailed discussion of two primary research articles concerning the regulation of cell growth and proliferation by the cell environment. Students will need to read the articles carefully and be able to discuss them in detail. Students are also encouraged to submit questions regarding the articles prior to class.
This course is graded pass/fail. Grades will be based on the weekly participation in discussion and on the satisfactory completion of the written and oral assignments.
|WEEK # ||TOPICS ||KEY DATES |
|1 ||Introduction || |
|2 ||Regulation of cell growth by the composition of its environment || |
|3 ||Identification and functional analysis of cell cycle components || |
|4 ||Bacterial differentiation in response to starvation and cell signaling || |
|5 ||Lab Visit ||Visit the Amon Lab at MIT |
|6 ||Genetic regulation of cell fate decision-making in yeast || |
|7 ||Growth and proliferation promoting pathways I: Ras || |
|8 ||Growth and proliferation promoting pathways II: TOR ||Written Midterm Assignment due |
|9 ||Nutrient control of entry into sporulation || |
|10 ||Biofilm formation by yeast and bacteria || |
|11 ||Repression of gene transcription in the absence of environmental stimuli || |
|12 ||Environmental control of cellular lifespan || |
|13 || |
Part 1: Germ cell differentiation in mammals
Part 2: Growth pathways in disease and development
|14 ||Final Oral Presentations ||Final Oral Presentations |