Module Identifier BS32420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Paul Kenton  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Gareth W Griffith, Dr Ian M Scott, Dr I S Donnison  
Pre-Requisite BS22520  
Course delivery Lecture   28 Hours 28 x 1 hour lectures  
  Other   3 Hours 1 x 3 hour workshop  
  Other   9 Hours 3 x 3 hour revision workshops  
  Other   2 Hours 2 x 1 hour poster sessions  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper  55%
Semester Assessment Assessment of workshop write-up (15%) Coursework essay (15%)45%
Supplementary Assessment3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper (80%) plus essay (20%)  100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student


Differential regulation of gene expression is a key process in the development of all organisms. Focussing exclusively on eukaryotes, this module examines the mechanisms of regulated gene expression and sets these processes in context by discussing model systems in which they have been studied.


The module is essentially split into two sections. The first section examines the mechanisms of differential gene expression, from gene to protein, and the second part discusses examples of development dependent upon regulated expression.

Part One This section begins with a single lecture outlining the basics of signal transduction. In multicellular organism, developmental pathways are often regulated by perception of chemical cues from other cells. Thus, a basic knowledge of these processes is critical to understanding the induction of gene expression. This is followed by an examination of the role of inducible transcription factors in the regulation of gene transcription. Here we shall discuss how, in response to the activation of signalling pathways, combinations of transcription factors can either up- or down-regulate transcription of target genes. The RNA resulting from transcription represents the unprocessed transcript. In eukaryotes the vast majority of these transcripts undergo processing in which they are capped, spliced, degraded or localised. Following processing, mRNA is translated. Translation too is subject to differential regulation. The overall rate of translation can be altered, and translation of individual mRNA species can be blocked. In addition, various forms of `recoding? can occur. The newly-formed polypeptide is also subject to a variety of post-translational modifications, e.g. targeting and degradation.

Poster Sessions At this point we shall take a short break from formal lectures. Split into small groups, students will prepare and present a poster on a given topic. The posters will be marked by the class and the marks will contribute 15% of the final module marks.

Part Two The second section begins with a single lecture introducing the idea of differential gene expression as a driving force of development by considering Drosophila. This will be followed by sections considering developmental processes in plants, fungi and vertebrates. The ABC model of floral development is a classical example of the way in which a small set of genes can have a profound effect on the development of complex structures. This can also be seen in the development of the leaf, where asymmetry and compounding are regulated by a number of key genes. A cascade of genes regulates conidiation in Aspergillus nidulans; this and other aspects will be discussed in the genetics of asexual reproduction. In vertebrate development, the `major players? involved in the development of most tissues will be introduced in tissue interactions. Here, examples of the way in which the `developmental toolkit? interacts to pattern tissues will be considered. This will lead us into a more in-depth consideration of limb development, selected as a topic because it illustrates many of the processes considered earlier. Neural development builds on this platform, but also introduces the importance of cell migration and differential adhesion in tissue formation. Finally, we shall consider the molecular biology of cancer as an example of what happens when differential gene expression becomes de-regulated.

Reading Lists

** Multiple Copies In Hugh Owen
Lewin, B (1999) Gene VII Oxford University Press.
Gilbert, S. (1997) Developmental Biology 5th. Sinauer Associates Inc.
Howell, S.H. (1998) Molecular genetics of plant development Cambridge University Press
Lodish, H. (2000) Molecular cell biology 4th. W.H. Freeman & Co


This module is at CQFW Level 6