Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Overview

Detailed analysis of the biochemical mechanisms that control the maintenance, expression, and evolution of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. Topics covered in lecture and readings of primary literature will include: gene regulation, DNA replication, genetic recombination, RNA processing, and translation. The logic of experimental design and data analysis will be emphasized. Presentations will include lectures, reading assignments and group discussions. Writing assignments, Problem Sets (ungraded) and review sessions also contribute to the course content. Graduate students registered for 7.58 are expected to explore the subject in greater depth.


Watson, James D., Tania A. Baker, Stephen P. Bell, Alexander Gann, Michael Levine, Richard Losick. Molecular Biology of the Gene. 5th ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2003. ISBN: 9780805346350.


7.03: Genetics

7.05: General Biochemistry

Evaluation for Grading

Grading for the course will be based on performance on the three scheduled exams. Each exam will be weighted equally, and therefore constitute 33.3% of your final grade (optional writing assignments can also contribute, see below). Material covered on each exam will be based principally on the new material presented since the previous exam, however, the course is designed to build on previously presented techniques and concepts and the exams will reflect this organization. Absence from an exam will be accepted only if an excuse is obtained from the Medical Department (or another physician) or with an excuse approved by the Dean's office. You must contact one of the course professors prior to the exam for an excused absence. If there is a conflict with the scheduled time of the final exam, see one of the professors.

There will be a problem set covering the material for each exam. These will not be graded, but the questions appearing on the problem sets will be very similar in depth and difficulty to those appearing on the exams. Therefore, working the problem sets (without reading the answers first!) is strongly recommended.

For each third of the course, one research article related to the material covered in lecture will be assigned. Everyone should read these papers; they will be discussed in recitation and related questions may appear on the exams. With each paper, we will also hand out a discussion question. Students are encouraged to write a brief essay (2 double spaced pages) in response to this question. Essays will receive up to 15 pts and will be graded based on the completeness of answer, clarity of explanation and originality. Course grades will be calculated based exclusively on exam scores. Points accumulated from completing the writing assignments will then be added to the exam totals. Grades will then be assigned without altering the point totals corresponding to each letter grade. Thus, the writing assignments will be treated as extra credit.