The module will begin with an introduction to the physics of force generation and directed motion at the nanoscopic level, and a brief overview of the biophysical techniques used to study molecular machinery. The module will address the structure and mode of action of molecular machines involved in the synthesis of ATP and biopolymers (DNA, RNA and polypeptides), transport across membranes (pumps, channels and secretion/efflux pumps), translocation along and unwinding of nucleic acids (helicases), and packaging of DNA into viruses. The module will also include a detailed appraisal of actin- and tubulin-based molecular motors involved in muscle contraction (myosin) and intracellular motion (myosin, kinesin and dynein). The module will finish by providing an overview of how bionanotechnology has harnessed natural nano-scale machines, and been inspired by them in imaginable and unimaginable ways.
|A||Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22|
Cells contain macromolecular machines composed of complex protein and/or nucleic acid assemblies that are essential for biological function. In the last decade there have been significant advances in our understanding of both the structures of such macromolecular machines, and their underlying molecular mechanisms for converting chemical or electrochemical energy into directed movement. In this module, students will be introduced to some of these macromolecular machines through dissection of key research papers in lectures and workshops. Students will learn how the mechanical action of these machines has been probed using biochemical and biophysical techniques, and how the resulting data were analysed to elucidate their mechanisms. Students will also gain an appreciation of how bionanotechnology has been inspired by and directly harnessed some of these natural nano-scale machines.
At the end of this module a student will be able to:
1. Describe the physics of force generation and directed motion at the nanoscopic level
2. Compare and contrast the mechanisms used by molecular machines and motors to do mechanical work
3. Describe the structure and architecture of the macromolecular machines covered in the module
4. Discuss how chemical energy is transduced into physical motion by exemplar molecular machines and motors
5. Describe the bulk and single-molecule techniques used to probe the kinetics, energetics and mechanics of molecular machinery, and critically assess the data obtained using these techniques
6. Evaluate and appraise the primary literature as it relates to molecular motors and machines, and their current applications in bionanotechnology
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
Marks for open assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Individual comments will be added to your script and/or on separate summary feedback document. Histograms of module marks will be posted on the notice boards outside the Biology Student Services office. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.
During the teaching of the module you will receive feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Forms of feedback may include: model answers and discussion of workshop questions, summaries of performance in practicals, VLE-based quizzes, individual spoken comments during workshops, individual written comments on formative work.
These are available through the VLE module site.