Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
Second semester
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The training objectives of the course in Molecular Biology plan to provide the students the ability to understand the molecular structure of nucleic acids, the structural organization of the gene and the molecular mechanisms that regulate its function and replication. The applications of some of the fundamental technologies of recombinant DNA are also presented, useful as a tool for basic and applied research.
Knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate knowledge, understanding and reworking the molecular aspects studied during the course of Molecular Biology in order to transform the knowledge learned in a more complex reflection and elaboration.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate the ability to use the concepts acquired even in areas other than those in which the knowledge learned of Molecular Biology are traditionally used.
Autonomy of judgments: Students must be able to autonomously explore what they have learned about the aspects of Molecular Biology, in order to use the acquired knowledge as a starting point that allows them to achieve further results, characterized by a growing maturity and from an ever wider autonomy of judgment.
Communication skills: The student must have the ability, in a clear and complete way, to demonstrate the contents of the topics related to the course of Molecular Biology using correctly the scientific language; communication must also be understandable to those who do not have specific preparation on the subject.
Learning skills: Attendance is a teaching aid with central importance; however, the student must be able to update himself continuously, through the consultation of texts and publications (also in English) in order to acquire the ability to deepen the topics in the field of Molecular Biology.


No prerequisites are required for the course, even if the student is advised to have passed the Biochemistry exam. Also it notes that the examination of Molecular Biology is a prerequisite for the examination of Genetics.


- Molecular Biology: historical notes and introductory notions.
- DNA and genetic material: nucleic acids as repositories of genetic information. Denaturation and renaturation. Introduction to the gene function. Mutations and their effects on gene function.
- DNA replication. Semi-conservative replication. Origin of replication and replicons. DNA polymerase. Molecular mechanism of replication: primase, helicase, SSB, sliding clamp. Throughput. The problem of replication of linear DNA ends.
- Overview of the genome structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.
 - RNA synthesis and gene structure: exons and introns. The transcription. Structure of bacterial RNA polymerase. Role of subunits. Interactions with DNA. Consensus sequences. Promoters. Auxiliary proteins. Start and lengthening of the transcript. Transcription unit. Termination, attenuation and antitermination.
- Control of gene expression in simple organisms. Transcription controls. Modification of the specificity of RNA polymerase: the sigma factor. Lactose operon analysis. Elicitability. Coordinated control. Transcriptional inductors and repressors. DNA repressor interaction: specificity, high and low affinity sites, allosteric effects, domains. Positive and negative regulations. Common structural features in proteins that regulate genes.
- Translation. Structure and function of the components of the protein synthesis machine. Ribosomes, rRNA and tRNA. Recognition of the messenger: RBS. Start, extension and termination factors. Active centers. The decipherment of the genetic code. The codon-anticodon recognition and the concept of vacillation. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase and tRNA recognition. Proofreading: kinetic and chemical controls. Synthesis and editing sites. The control of the correct pairing in the ribosome. Suppressors.
- Organization of phage genomes and infectious strategies. Sequential gene expression. Lysis and lysogeny: lambda phage. Autogenous control of the expression. Activation of the prof.
- non-coding RNA: RNase P, vRNA, gRNA. snoRNA. Pre-rRNA processing. Rnase MRP, scaRNA, RNA of telomerase, SRP RNA, RNA 6S. Small bacterial RNA, Riboswitch. Biogenesis of miRNAs, Protein Argonauta, miRNAs in cancer. ncRNA in pathologies. Antisense RNA and RNA interference. Long non-coding RNA, the XIST gene.
- Recombinant DNA as an instrument of basic and applied research. Cloning of a DNA sequence. Recombinant DNA formation. Restriction enzymes. Ligase. Vectors: plasmids, viral vectors, cosmids, phosmides, BAC, YAC. Bacterial transformation. Basic analytical techniques: gel electrophoresis, Southern, Northern and Western blotting. Selection of recombinants. In vitro DNA amplification: PCR. DNA sequencing. Interpretation of the sequences.

The course of Molecular Biology provides information to the student to understand the molecular structure of nucleic acids, the structural organization of the gene and the molecular mechanisms that regulate its function and replication. The applications of some of the fundamental technologies of recombinant DNA are also presented, useful as a tool for basic and applied research.

Teaching Methods

The course of Molecular Biology is divided into 48 hours of lectures. Furthermore, on the e-learning site there are some Blended lessons in English.


The slides of each lesson, and other teaching materials will be made available during the course in .pdf format on the e-learning site (http://e-scienzeetecnologie.uniparthenope.it).
The recommended texts are:
MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE GENE Watson, Baker, Bell, Gann, Levine, Losick - Zanichelli - 7th - 2015
MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Amaldi, Benedetti, Pesole, Plevani - Ambrosiana Publishing House - 2nd - 2014

Learning assessment

In the final oral exam the ability to link and compare different aspects treated during the course will be evaluated. The objective of the exam consists in verifying the level of achievement of the previously indicated training objectives.
The exam for foreign students can be taken in English.

More information

The teaching material is accessible in e-learning mode at the link http://e-scienzeetecnologie.uniparthenope.it
The reception time is Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 to 13:00