Membranes, Energy and Metabolism

This course aims to illustrate the pivotal role of biological membranes in the cell physiology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, including both plant and animal cells. Lectures and student-centred activities will explore this subject under three broad themes.

  1. The role and properties of membranes: lipid and protein components; how membranes define compartments; techniques and methodologies.
  2. Energy generation within the cell: electron-transfer pathways; generation of ATP; oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis.
  3. Metabolism: gluconeogenesis and the pentose phosphate pathway; the Calvin cycle; regulatory mechanisms and the control of metabolic pathways; the influence of hormones and other factors.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • explain the principles of membrane fusion and give an account of the various methods used to study membranes;
  • calculate bioenergetic parameters based upon redox values and other types of data;
  • describe the properties and functions of electron transfer pathways and their protein and redox components;
  • explain the integration of anabolic metabolism with photosynthesis and energy metabolism;
  • compare and contrast microbial energy systems with those of eukaryotes;
  • recall the metabolic pathways and discuss how they function within the cell;
  • explain the concepts of allostery, metabolic flux, and hormonal regulation of metabolism.

In addition, through participation in practical classes, workshops and group work, students should be able to:

    • follow experimental protocols to investigate enzyme catalysed cleavage of phospholipids, lipid separation and redox reactions;
    • record and analyse experimental TLC and redox potential data;
    • complete lab reports on the module experiments, evaluate data and draw conclusions;
    • analyse data from bioenergetics and membrane studies by tackling problem-based questions.