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Unit information: Cell Signalling in 2018/19

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Unit name Cell Signalling
Unit code MEDIM0013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. McArdle
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The students are given a background in receptors and signal transduction; with emphasis on neuronal signalling.

The Aims of the Unit are to:

1. Provide a broad overview of cell-cell communication (introducing key concepts such as the means of cell-cell communication, types of molecules involved, nature and classification of receptors, the generation and exploitation of transmembrane ion gradients, the importance of protein phosphorylation);

2. To explain:

(a)signalling via ligand-gated ion channels using nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, NMDA receptors and GABA receptors as examples;

(b)signalling via ligand-regulated gene regulatory proteins, how they are activated and the cellular consequences of their activation;

(c)signalling via nitric oxide

(d)signalling via GPCRs and the pathways through which they control cellular activity;

(e)cellular Ca2+ homeostasis (how it is controlled and how it influences cellular activity)

(f)signalling via enzyme-containing receptors;

(g)signalling via tyrosine kinase associated receptors ;

(h)vesicular transport with emphasis on the proteins and mechanisms regulating exocytotic neurotransmitter secretion

(i)mechanisms underlying cellular adaptation to extracellular signalling molecules, emphasising the desensitisation and cycling of GPCRs.

(j)signalling pathways controlling cell fate and the cellular stress response

(k)how knowledge of cell signalling is exploited in drug discovery

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit the student will have a good understanding of molecular neuropharmacology and cell signalling with emphasis on neuronal signalling.

Teaching details

This unit is taught primarily through lectures and tutorials, in addition to a laboratory demonstration and associated data handling session.

Assessment Details

This Unit is assessed through a combination of coursework (an essay and data interpretation questions) and a formal written exam consisting of an essay (one essay from a choice of essay questions) and a data interpretation exercise consisting of short questions. The coursework carries 1/3, the written exam essay 1/3 and the written exam data interpretation exercise 1/3 of the final Unit mark.

Reading and References

Selected relevant review papers from the literature.