Cell Biology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
BIOL 2321
Cell Biology
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture/Tutorial 4hrs/week Laboratory 3 hrs/week
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

There are four hours of lecture or tutorials per week, and three hours of laboratory work.  The content is integrated throughout laboratory experiments, problem sets, journal articles and textbook readings.

Course Description
A survey of cell ultrastructure and cellular function. Topics discussed include nuclear, organelle and membrane structures and associated functions, including DNA replication, transcription, RNA functions, translation, protein trafficking, membrane functions, cell signaling and the cell cycle, in addition to the regulation of these functions and processes. Classical cell biology experiments are described along with their contributions to understanding cell structure and functions.
Course Content

1. The origin and evolution of cells

  •  The first cell
  •  The evolution of metabolism
  •  Present-day prokaryotes
  •  Eukaryotic cells
  •  The origin of eukaryotes
  •  Cells as experimental organisms
  •  The development of multicellular organisms
  •  Tools in cell biology

2. Chemical components of cells

  •  Biological importance of water
  •  Carbohydrates
  •  Lipids
  •  Nucleic acids
  •  Proteins
  •  Cell Membrane components

3. Structure of DNA, heredity and genes

  •  Genes and chromosomes
  •  Genes and enzymes
  •  Identification of DNA as the genetic material
  •  The structure of DNA
  •  Replication of DNA

4. Expression of genetic information

  •  Co-linearity of genes and proteins
  •  The role of messenger RNA
  •  The genetic code
  •  RNA viruses and reverse transcription

5. Genomes: prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes

  •  Genomes and transcriptomes of prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  •  Chromatin and nucleosome structure, and the structure of eukaryotic genes, introns and exons
  •  Roles of introns
  •  Noncoding RNA and repetitive DNA sequences
  •  Centromeres and telomeres

6. DNA replication

  •  DNA polymerases
  •  The replication fork
  •  The fidelity of replication
  •  Origins and the initiation of replication
  •  Telomeres and telomerase: maintaining the ends of chromosomes

7. Recombinant DNA, detection of nucleic acids and proteins

  •  Recombinant DNA and restriction endonucleases
  •  Generation of recombinant DNA molecules
  •  Vectors for recombinant DNA
  •  Expression of cloned genes
  •  Amplification of DNA by the polymerase chain reaction
  •  Nucleic acid hybridization
  •  Antibodies as probes for proteins

8. Transcription in prokaryotes and eukaryotes

  •  Prokaryotic RNA polymerase and transcription
  •  Repressors and negative control of transcription 
  •  Positive control of transcription
  •  Eukaryotic RNA polymerases
  •  General transcription factors and initiation of transcription by RNA polymerase II in eukaryotes
  •  Cis-acting regulatory sequences: promoters and enhancers
  •  Structure and function of transcriptional activators
  •  Eukaryotic repressors
  •  Regulation of elongation
  •  Histone modifications
  •  Chromatin remodeling factors, histones and epigenetic inheritance
  •  Noncoding RNAs

9. RNA processing and turnover

  •  Processing of ribosomal and transfer RNAs
  •  Processing of mRNA in eukaryotes
  •  Splicing mechanisms and alternative splicing
  •  RNA editing
  •  RNA degradation

10. Protein synthesis

  •  Transfer RNAs
  •  The ribosome
  •  The organization of mRNAs and the initiation of translation
  •  The process of translation
  •  Regulation of translation

11. Protein folding and processing

  •  Chaperones and protein folding
  •  Protein misfolding diseases
  •  Enzymes that catalyze protein folding
  •  Protein cleavage
  •  Glycosylation
  •  Attachment of lipids

12. Regulation of protein activity

  •  Regulation by small molecules
  •  Protein phosphorylation and other modifications
  •  Transcriptional regulatory proteins
  •  Protein–protein interactions
  •  The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway
  •  Lysosomal proteolysis

13. The nuclear envelope and traffic between the nucleus and the cytoplasm

  •  Structure of the nuclear envelope
  •  Nuclear lamina diseases
  •  The nuclear pore complex
  •  Selective transport of proteins to and from the nucleus
  •  Transport of RNAs
  •  Regulation of nuclear protein import

14. Protein sorting and transport

  •  The endoplasmic reticulum and protein secretion
  •  Targeting proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum
  •  Quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum
  •  Export of proteins and lipids from the endoplamsic reticulum
  •  Organization of the Golgi
  •  Protein glycosylation within the Golgi
  •  Protein sorting and export from the Golgi apparatus
  •  The smooth endoplasmic reticulum and lipid synthesis

15. Structure and transport function of the plasma membrane

  •  The lipid bilayer
  •  Plasma membrane proteins
  •  Plasma membrane domains
  •  Simple diffusion, osmosis and facilitated diffusion 
  •  Ion channels and carrier proteins
  •  Active transport driven by ATP hydrolysis
  •  Active transport driven by ion gradients
  •  Cystic Fibrosis and impaired solute transport
  •  Endocytosis – phagocytosis, clathrin-mediated and clathrin-independent endocytosis

16. Cell signaling molecules, receptors and signal transduction pathways

  •  Modes of cell–cell signaling
  •  Steroid hormones and the nuclear receptor superfamily
  •  Nitric oxide and carbon monoxide
  •  Neurotransmitters
  •  Peptide hormones and growth factors
  •  Eicosanoids
  •  Plant hormones
  •  G proteins and G protein-coupled receptors
  •  Second and third messengers in signal transduction pathways

17. The eukaryotic cell cycle

  •  Phases of the cell cycle and cell cycle checkpoints
  •  Regulation of the cell cycle by cell growth and extracellular signals
  •  Growth factors, protein kinases and cell cycle regulation
  •  Families of cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases
  •  Regulation of G1 cyclin dependent kinases
  •  S phase and regulation of DNA replication
  •  DNA damage checkpoints 
  •  Development and causes of cancer
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Describe the current understanding and evidence for the origin of cells and the evolution of metabolism.
2. Explain the chemical composition and functions of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids in cells.
3. Explain how DNA provides a mechanism for heredity and describe the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA to protein.
4. Describe examples for the regulation of gene expression at transcriptional, translational and posttranslational levels, including the roles of noncoding RNA.
5. Describe the structure of the nuclear envelope and explain the mechanisms that allow for traffic of molecules between nucleus and cytoplasm.
6. Describe the structure and function of the plasma membrane and explain its role in active and passive transport, including the generation and transmission of action potentials.
7. Describe the membrane’s role in cell signaling and explain how disorders in signal transduction pathways may contribute to the pathogenesis of cancer.
8. Explain the processes that regulate protein trafficking to different sites within cells and for export from cells.
9. Describe the phases of the cell cycle and explain the experimental data that has identified the regulators of cell cycle progression.
10. Apply general principles of cell biology to discuss current issues.
11. Describe various tools and techniques used in cell biology and perform experiments using the common tools of cell and molecular biology, including light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, sub-cellular fractioning, culture of animal and plant cells, processing of animal tissues for histology, immunoassays, DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme mapping and phagocytosis assay.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:


Class quizzes 5-15%
Laboratory assignments 15-20%
Laboratory examination  5-15%
Midtem exam 20-25%
Final exam 30-40%
Total 100%


Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College Bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials. Example textbooks and materials may include:

Cooper, G. M. and Huasman R. E. The Cell, A Molecular Approach.  Current edition.  ASM Press, Sinauer Associates Inc. Massachusetts, or other textbook as determined by the instructor.


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses

Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses
Which Prerequisite