Cells and Proteins
This Unit focuses on the key role that proteins play in the structure and functioning of cells and organisms. In considering the proteome it builds on the understanding of the genome developed in the revised Higher Biology and Higher Human Biology Courses. The ability of proteins to fold into specific conformations and bind tightly to particular regions of other molecules provides the molecular diversity and activity necessary for the workings of a cell. This flexibility allows proteins to fill roles as enzymes, signals, receptors, channels, transporters and structural components. Signal transduction in particular allows the communication between cells necessary within multicellular organisms, and it is the emergent properties of protein-based signalling pathways that lead to the physiology of whole organisms.
The study of protein is primarily a laboratory-based activity, and consequently the Unit begins with a selection of important laboratory techniques for biologists. This skills-based sequence of concepts leads from health and safety considerations, through the use of liquids and solutions, to a selection of relevant separation and antibody techniques. In addition, much work on cell biology is based on the use of cell lines, so techniques related to cell culture and microscopy are included. The teaching of these techniques could be delivered in an integrated manner within this Unit.
The Cells and Proteins unit is divided into 2 main areas of content viz: Laboratory techniques for biologists, and Proteins. In the sections that follow you will find a series of links to resources and activities - some of these have been produced by SSERC whilst others are from sources which we are happy to endorse/recommend.