MOB-30306 Control of Cellular Processes and Cell Differentiation


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)dr. VA Willemsen
Lecturer(s)dr. VA Willemsen
dr. ir. JE Wellink
prof. dr. D Weijers
Examiner(s)prof. dr. D Weijers
dr. VA Willemsen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BIC-20306 Cell Physiology & Genetics; BIC-20806 Enzymology; MOB-20306 Gene Technology.

Continuation courses:

MOB-31303 Molecular Development.


Biochemical and Molecular (Cell) Biology research has resulted into new insights in the strategies cells use to regulate their processes. These molecular concepts will be discussed in this course. This includes the biochemistry of regulatory strategies of cellular processes, the biochemistry of signal-transducing pathways and the human sensory systems. The hormonal and enzymatic regulation of pathways controlling metabolism and cell identity will be discussed as examples of regulation at the organismal level. The biochemical part of this course will be finished by studying actual topics related to regulatory strategies in a small group. At the end of the course, the results of these studies will be presented in a lecture.
Genome wide sequence analysis has resulted in the identification of all the genes of several organisms. This can be seen as the climax of research driven by a reductionisms approach. With all the building blocks (ao proteins) at hand, the most important challenge in biology is a more synthetic approach to try to understand the connections between the building blocks. This part of the lectures will be centred on the theme Cancer. Tumour cells are in general formed when genes controlling the cell cycle, DNA repair, apoptosis, nuclear organisation or cell mobility are mutated (cancer is a DNA disease). Therefore studies on mechanisms underlying cancer formation have provided major insight in how these processes are controlled.
It is essential to study the behaviour and interaction of molecules in a living cell which has a very different context (molecular crowding) from the diluted solutions, which have been mostly used for these studies. An introduction will be given in several innovative light microscopic techniques (FRAP, FRET) that are very suitable to study this.
With the help of a digital case a more mathematical background of the mechanisms that drive the cell cycle (involving stable steady states, transitions, feedback loops, thresholds, oscillations) will be explained.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe strategies of cells to regulate cellular processes;
- explain the basic principles of the biochemistry of signal-transducing pathways and the human sensory systems and in hormonal and enzymatic regulation at a molecular level in relation to diseases such as cancer;
- describe how chromatin and RNAi control gene expression;
- explain the basic principles of the cell cycle, apoptosis and DNA repair and infer the relation between these processes with development and cancer;
- translate a simple cell biological process in a mathematical model;
- explain how advanced microscopic techniques are used to study the behaviour and interactions of proteins in living cells;
- collect, arrange and critically analyse literature data dealing with regulation of cellular processes.


- lectures;
- computer based learning;
- reading literature;
- discussions and presentations on specific topics.


- written test with open questions plus bonus mark for case study (0-0.5).
The bonus mark will be valid for two years.


The theoretical background can be found in:
Bruce Alberts, [].(2015). Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th ed. New York: Garland Science.
Berg, JM; Tymoczko JL; Stryer L. (2015). Biochemistry. 8th ed. New York: W H Freeman.

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScA: Cell and Molecular Biology1AF
MBTBiotechnologyMScC: Medical Biotechnology1AF
MBTBiotechnologyMScB: Food Biotechnology1AF
MBTBiotechnologyMScA: Cellular/Molecular Biotechnology1AF
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScC: Physical Biology1AF
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScB: Biological Chemistry1AF
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMScA: Biomedical Research1AF