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MICa 8009

Biochemical Aspects of Normal and
Abnormal Cell Growth and Cell Death

Spring Semester (2 credits)

Friday 3:35-5:30pm

Course Director: Dr. Khalil Ahmed, Professor

Office: Room 4N102, V.A. Medical Center
One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Phone: 725-2000, extension 2594; 2876; Fax: 725-2093

General Topics

  • A brief review of gene structure at DNA level and factors that control its functions (canonical sequences; response elements; methylation). Nuclear structure at the protein level; chromosomal proteins (histones and nonhistones; post-translational modifications of histones and nonhistones and their functions); subnuclear structures (chromatin, nucleolus, nuclear matrix); nucleosome structure and regulation of function.
  • Cell growth signaling via protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. Protein kinases in cell signalling (with a focus on growth control); protein phosphatases; protein kinase and phosphatase inhibitors; protein kinase and phosphatase functions in neoplasia; therapeutic targets.
  • Mechanism of steroid hormone action; receptors; role of nuclear matrix; protein phosphorylation; acceptor sites, etc.; hormonal neoplasia (with special focus on prostate cancer). Oncogenes and growth factors in neoplasia.
  • Apoptosis or programmed cell death; genes and biochemical mechanisms involved in apoptosis; application of apoptosis in normal and abnormal growth control. Apoptosis as a target for therapy in cancer.

Course Objectives

The general aims of the course are to discuss different aspects of the mechanisms involved in growth control especially at the level of the nuclear function. A heavy emphasis of the course is on neoplasia in hormonal cancers (such as prostate cancer) and the role of signaling via protein phosphorylation in normal and abnormal growth. The course also deals with the mechanisms of cell death via apoptosis, and its implications in normal and abnormal proliferation.

In the first meeting, we will discuss the format for the conduct of this course. In general, a brief handout will be given to cover the various segments of the course; this will describe the subject matter in that segment and include several references to aid the students in further study of the subject. No specific text book is assigned for the course, and it is expected that the students will draw heavily on specific review articles that they will be directed to. Depending on the number of students registered, the course may be offered on a self-study basis and/or seminar type study involving the participation of the students (this will be discussed in the first meeting). The students will be expected to prepare a summary of each segment of the course during its progress. These reports will be combined with the writing of a research proposal dealing with an aspect of the course to arrive at the final grade assignment for each student.