|Module Title||PROKARYOTE MOLECULAR GENETICS|
|Co-ordinator||Professor Michael Young|
|Other staff||Dr Michael Winson|
|Course delivery||Lecture||25 Hours|
|Practical||5 Hours 5 x 3 hours|
|Workshop||5 Hours 5 x 1 hour|
|Assessment||Exam||3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper||60%|
|Practical exercise||Continuous assessment of practicals||20%|
|Resit assessment||3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)|
Aims and objectives
This module is an integrated series of lectures, practical classes and data interpretation workshops dealing with the genetics of bacteria and their viruses. Both classical and molecular genetic techniques are covered; their use as powerful tools for the investigation of a variety of phenomena of general biological interest is emphasised.
The module comprises four interconnected parts. It begins with a discussion of the ways in which bacteria respond to different mutagenic agents, which leads on to a consideration of the processes they employ to repair damaged DNA. Genetic exchange (transformation, transduction and conjugation) is then dealt with in some detail, after which the main events underlying homologous recombination are analysed. This usually accompanies genetic exchange and is involved in certain types of DNA repair. Finally, the use of mutagenesis and genetic exchange for the analysis of a metabolic pathway is illustrated.
Next, we deal with the biology of plasmids and their use in genetic engineering. The mechanisms whereby plasmids replicate and are transmitted from cell to cell are explored, as are those involved in determining plasmid copy number and compatibility. Transposable elements, which are commonly found on plasmids, are then considered in some detail and their utility for undertaking genetic analysis is emphasised. Mechanisms of transposition are also considered and this leads finally to a consideration of processes of illegitimate and site-specific recombination.
Various aspects of the biology of bacteriophages are then illustrated via an in depth analysis of two specific examples. One (*X174) is remarkable for the economy of use of its genetic information and the other (*) has alternative, lytic or lysogenic, lifestyles. The choice between these two contrasting modes of virus multiplication is determined by an environmentally responsive genetic switch, the nature of which is considered in some detail.
Finally, we explore some of the many different ways in which bacteria respond to changes in their environment. In one case (chemotaxis) this leads to a purposeful change in their spatial location (essentially a behavioural response). In another (endospore development) this leads to a temporally controlled programme of compartmentalised gene expression, the complexities of which are still being unravelled today. Lastly, we discuss the regulation of virulence gene expression, by focusing on how pathogenic microbes integrate information about their plant or animal host environment. The roles of two-component regulators and quorum sensing molecules in signal integration will be compared. This last section of the module illustrates the analytical power of genetic approaches for investigating biological problems.
On completion of the module students should
** Recommended Text
Snyder, L. Champness, W.. (1997) Molecular genetics of bacteria. ASM, Washington DC.
Friefelder, D.. (1987) Microbial genetics. Jones & Bartlett, Boston.
Brown, T.A. (1989) Genetics: a molecular approach. Van Nostrand Reinhold, London.
Ptashne, M.. (1992) A genetic switch. 2nd. Cell Press & Blackwell Scientific, Cambridge Mass. USA & Oxford, UK.