Biology 432

BIOL 432: The Eukaryotic Cell

Prerequisites: A grade of "C" or better in BIOL 131, BIOL 132, BIOL 231, BIOL 232, and CHEM 102

Credit Hours: (4) Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory

Structure and function of eukaryotic cells, with emphasis on cell reproduction, survival, signaling, and cooperation in multicellular organisms.  Readings will include the primary literature of cell biology. The laboratory will introduce basic methods in cell biology.


Detailed Description of Course

Exact topics will vary with the interests and expertise of the instructor and as modern cell biology evolves.  Generally, however, the following major topics will be covered:

Differences between eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells

Origin and evolution of eukaryotic cells

Synthesis of cell membranes

Transport of substances across membranes

Cell electrical properties

Excitable cells (neurons and muscle cells)

The cell cytoskeleton

                Movement of cells and within cells

Nuclear organization and gene regulation

The cell cycle and cell reproduction

                Details of cell division

                Cell survival and cell suicide


Signaling between cells and cell monitoring of the environment

Integration and cooperation of cells within tissues

Stem cells and cell differentiation

Special characteristics of plant cells


The laboratory portion will introduce students to basic methodology of cell biology, including, but not limited to

• Cell imaging

• Cell fractionation

• Cell culture

The instructor will emphasize connections between these basic methods and the more advanced techniques described in the literature.   


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be primarily based on lecture, supplemented with discussion, student presentations, and cooperative learning.  Homework problems may be assigned.  Analysis and interpretation of data from modern cell biology research will be emphasized, whether through Socratic dialog, team problems, student presentations or homework problems.  In addition to reading in a textbook, some reading in the primary literature will be expected (although not to the extent expected in a BIOL 460, senior seminar course).

In the laboratory a high level of student autonomy will be expected and students may be required to find methods in the primary literature and to adapt them to their own use.  Students will be expected to plan and prepare their own solutions, and to design simple experiments.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

As cell biology is a rapidly changing field of Biology, specific learning goals may change from semester to semester.  Having successfully completed the course, the student will be able to describe the basic biology of eukaryotic cells.  This may include, but not necessarily be limited to, being able to…

• Describe the characteristics of eukaryotic cells

• Explain the differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells

• Describe theories of the origin and evolution of eukaryotic cells

• Explain how cell membranes are produced.

• Explain how materials are moved across cell membranes

• Explain the origin of cell electrical properties

• Explain the functioning of excitable cells

• Describe the cell cytoskeleton

• Explain current understanding of how cells move

• Explain current understanding of eukaryotic gene regulation

• Explain the control mechanisms of the cell cycle, as currently understood

• Describe details of cell division

• Describe the factors that lead to cell survival or cell suicide

• Explain the basic mechanisms of cell signaling

• Explain how cells are integrated into tissues

• Explain basic methods of cell imaging.

• Explain basic methods of cell fractionation

• Explain basic methods of Cell culture

• Find methods of cell study in the primary literature


Assessment Measures

Appropriate assessment measures may include objective examinations, essay examinations, written papers, laboratory reports, laboratory protocols, and student presentations.  Students may also be evaluated by observation of their ability to function in the laboratory.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

March 6, 2012