Università degli studi dell'Insubria


A.A. di erogazione 2016/2017

Anno di corso: 
Tipologia di insegnamento: 
Settore disciplinare: 
Primo Semestre
Ore di attivita' frontale: 
Dettaglio ore: 
Lezione (48 ore)

Acquisition of knowledge regarding the principles of the molecular mechanisms of epigenetics, regulation of gene expression, and chromatin structure to render the students capable of critically reading and discussing scientific literature and defining strategies to address questions in these topics.


To follow this course the student must have a good understanding of basic molecular biology and the main techniques of molecular biology and genetic engineering. Moreover, the student must be able to understand English and be capable of reading scientific publications used as educational material.

• Introduction to the concept of epigenetics and some examples of epigenetics regulation in the animal world. A brief review of the transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes.
• DNA methylation as epigenetic mechanism: distribution in different organisms; techniques for its analysis; enzymes involved in specifying the pattern of DNA methylation in mam-mals; the role of DNA methylation and experimental approaches to understand its func-tions; the readers of DNA methylation and the mode of action; pathologies associated with defects in DNA methylation. Hydroxymethylcytosine as a novel epigenetic signal? Distribu-tion, techniques to study its presence and possible functions.
• Chromatin as a regulator of gene expression; ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes; post-translational modifications of histones and the associated writers and readers; the histone code; pathologies associated with defects in chromatin structure.
• Non-coding RNAs as novel regulators of gene expression. Different classes of non-coding RNAs and their biosynthesis; their involvement in regulating gene expression; associated pathologies.
• Imprinting.
• X-inactivation.
All arguments will include an explanation of different experimental approaches aimed at demonstrating the current evidence. The students will thus review the main molecular biology techniques used in modern laboratories. Special emphasis will be given to the concept of proper controls allowing a correct interpretation of the experiments.

Oral lectures.

Modalita' di verifica dell'apprendimento: 

During the final oral exam of approximately 20 minutes the knowledge of the treated topics will be ensured. The examination starts with questions regarding the topics of the course and assessing the common knowledge of the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression and epigenetics with a focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms and techniques useful for their studies. The second part of the exam will test the student’s ability to use the techniques of modern molecular biology to propose properly designed experiments aimed at addressing a specific problem inherent to the course.

Pdf files of the lectures will be given to the students during the course together with references of scientific reviews and articles treating the topics of the course.

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