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BGM2061 : Protein Trafficking and Biological Membranes

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jeremy Brown
  • Lecturer: Professor Jeremy Lakey, Dr Simon Wilkinson, Professor Bert van den Berg, Professor Tracy Palmer
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1.To introduce the concept of compartmentalisation within eukaryotic cells.
2.To explore in detail protein targeting to and transport across membranes, trafficking between organelles and to explore recurrent themes in these processes.
3.To provide examples of post-translational modifications that occur within the secretory pathway and how these affect trafficking and localisation of proteins.
4.To reveal the dynamic nature of membrane lipid and protein biochemistry and how it relates to cellular processes.
5.To examine the synthesis and topogenesis of membrane proteins.
6.To provide an understanding of key aspects of membrane structure and the physical contraints of the membrane environment.

Outline Of Syllabus

Biological membranes are critical for maintaining cellular function, but at the same time they impede the movement of molecules and proteins within the cell. The module will consider:
·the concepts of compartmentalisation within eukaryotic cells
·biological membranes including different types of membrane, e.g. viral, bacterial, archeal, sub-cellular and cellular
·micelles, bilayered liposomes and detergents
·recognition of membrane proteins and proteins that are transported into cellular organelles or secreted from the cell, from their polypeptide sequences
·how membrane and secreted proteins are synthesized, sorted and transported to the correct destinations
·the function of specific membrane and membrane-associated protein complexes.
Within the module emphasis will be placed on some of the common and recurrent themes by which proteins are delivered to their correct cellular location, the roles of molecular chaperones in protein trafficking and folding, sorting and recycling of proteins, quality control mechanisms that operate within the secretory pathway and post-translational modification of proteins.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture231:0023:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical26:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Reflective learning activity - 2 Question and Answer and Feedback sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1163:00163:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce and build upon previous exposure to the concepts in the learning outcomes. Some of the concepts and ideas covered in the lectures will be re-enforced in practical sessions which will give the students ‘hands on’ experience of purifying proteins. One of the feedback sessions will be used to review the material covered in the lab (lab recording and reporting skills). The second feedback session will be used to discuss the timed essay, and review essay exam skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A80MCQ and/or single word/short phrase answer questions (30%): 30 minutes. Essay x 2 (70%) : 90 minutes
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M10Timed essay. 45 minutes (to reflect time in exam per essay).
Practical/lab report2M10Practical Writeup. 1500 words maximum.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Exams test the knowledge across the module.
Practicals assess students understanding of key points in the lectures, ability to report and analyse results, and also their practical and team working skills (students will be working in groups of 2 or more for the practical).
The timed essay will examine the students’ ability to produce an essay under exam conditions on the subject area of the module.

Reading Lists