Structures of Destruction: the structural biology of pathogenicity

This module constitutes a further development of the module previously known as Protein Structure Function and Dynamics (BCM311) to underscore the significance of structure in protein function. You will study the structure and function of macromolecules that confer viral or bacterial pathogenicity.

Major topics include

  • Virus-encoded structural and non-structural proteins,
  • Toxins,
  • Bacterial host-cell attachment and entry, and
  • Protein folding in amyloid structures.

The majority of the course material is delivered through lectures, supported by student-centred activities, such as problem-based learning, essay writing, seminar preparation and presentation. Preparation for the student seminars will be aided by two drop-in sessions led by academic staff. Independent study will be stimulated through selected original research articles and reviews, student seminars and assessed essay. Feedback on student progress will be provided through the assessed components.

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

  • explore the structures of pathogenic macromolecules and protein assemblies using molecular graphics software; analyse and discuss their properties by tackling problem-based questions
  • research and jointly prepare a group poster demonstrating the relationship between structure and function of a case-study ‘pathogenic macromolecule’ and outline potential future experiments; present the poster to other students on a one-to-one basis to peers
  • independently outline the structures of selected viruses, viral and bacterial proteins, explaining how these structures relate to their pathogenic function, and discuss how we may use structural biology to aid attempts to develop novel therapies or combat emerging threats such as drug resistance
  • independently discuss the problem of protein misfolding, describing the role of misfolded proteins in disease processes
  • demonstrate an awareness of the research literature underpinning advances in areas relevant to the module
  • demonstrate creativity, initiative and independence in learning