Bio 5319 – Molecular Foundations of Medicine

Linda J. Pike, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
1905 South Building
course website:
(You must have a WUSTL key and be listed as a student to have access.)
Pre-requisites: Coursemaster approval is required for students other than medical students. 3 units.

This course is designed primarily for medical students and will cover fundamental aspects of biochemistry and cell biology. The course begins with a treatment of protein structure and folding and includes coverage of protein folding diseases. The principles of enzyme kinetics and regulation are then discussed to round out the protein chemistry section of the course.

The second section of the course examines the basic metabolic pathways that are important in metabolic diseases. The section begins with a discussion of the principles of cell signaling that are involved in the regulation of most biochemical and cell biological pathways. The pathways relating to glucose homeostasis are then studied and this is followed by an examination of the metabolism of fats and the provision of metabolic energy by the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. The metabolism section ends with a discussion of folates which are used as building blocks in many biosynthetic pathways followed by an example of their use in the clinically important pathways of nucleotide metabolism.

The synthesis of nucleotides provides the segway into the third section of the course which deals with the function of cellular organelles. The section starts with the utilization of nucleotides in the process of transcription. The subsequent lectures follow the path taken by the nascent mRNA. The initial lecture discusses the structure of cellular membranes as a prelude to examining the process of protein biosynthesis, and in particular the biosynthesis of membrane proteins. This is followed by a study of post-translational modifications, protein targeting and protein transport
and secretion.

In the fourth section of the course, a macroscopic view of the cell is taken as the class examines cell shape and motility as well as the integration of cells into organs via cell-matrix interactions. Cancer and metastasis provides the organizing principle for examining the role of cell motility and
cell-matrix interactions in a medical context. The cancer theme is continued in the study of cell proliferation which includes an examination of cell cycle control and the role of tumor suppressors and apoptosis in cell growth and tumor development. The biochemistry of DNA replication and repair is then examined more explicitly.