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BGM2061 : Protein Trafficking and Biological Membranes

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jeremy Brown
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Christina Elliott
  • Lecturer: Professor Bert van den Berg, Professor Tracy Palmer FRS FRSE FMedSci, Dr Henrik Strahl von Schulten, Professor Christopher Dennison
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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 constraints 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
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:151:15Timed essay and paper interpretation exercise
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Preparation for timed essay and paper interpretation exercise
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture231:0023:00In person - Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Practical write up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical26:0012:00In person - Practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00In person scientific paper interpretation workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00In person - feedback sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1129:45129:45Writing up lecture notes, revision and general reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce and build upon previous exposure to the concepts in the learning outcomes. The workshop supports the timed summative assessment.

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 practical (lab recording and reporting skills). The second will be used to discuss the formative assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50In person invigilated exam, comprising 2 essays from a choice of 4 divided into 2 sections representing the 2 strands within the module. Students must answer one essay from each section.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M25Practical Writeup. 1500 words maximum.
Essay2M25In person invigilated timed essay based on 2-3 papers given a month prior to the essay plus PIE style SAQ on one of the papers - 75 mins in length, max 5 questions.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written in person exams tests knowledge across the module.

The practical write-up assesses 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 tests application of knowledge, understanding and critical evaluation skills.

The PIE-style SAQs will test the ability of students to interpret scientific data and prepare them for similar assessments in 3rd year and for their 3rd year dissertation.

Reading Lists