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CODE 104184
SEMESTER 2° Semester
Propedeuticità in uscita
Questo insegnamento è propedeutico per gli insegnamenti:
  • APPLIED AND EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY 11158 (coorte 2024/2025)


The teaching of Cellular and Developmental Biology is a unique module lasting 6 credits. The aim of the course is to provide students with knowledge of novel cellular mechanisms, illustrating new pathways that increase the complexity of cell biology mainly focusing on development processes.



The course of Cellular and Developmental Biology aims to deepen the knowledge of the cell by describing in detail the biological processes that regulate both intercellular and intracellular communication between the different compartments with particular attention in every process to the regulation of gene expression both in conditions physiological and pathological and during development.


Cellular and Developmental Biology aims at investigating the interactions between the different cellular components, in particular those that play a role in regulating gene expression, both in terms of production and elimination of proteins. Starting from the mechanisms that regulate the interaction between the extracellular environment and the nucleus with the ultimate aim of regulating gene expression, we will move on to analyzing other pathways assigned to regulate gene expression by means of non-coding RNAs and quality control mechanisms of proteins. This will therefore lead to address the topic of cellular response to the formation of protein aggregates and the methods that can be used to study these processes starting from cell cultures up to stem cells and organoids. The mechanisms of epithelium-mesenchyme and mesenchyme-epithelium transitions and the mechanisms of intercellular communication and migration will be studied in depth. Particular attention will be given to the role of the cytoskeleton in all the processes analyzed.
Each topic will be joined to the previous ones and at the end of the course the student will be able to connect all the acquired notions, to understand how the cellular signal networks are tightly integrated and how the cytoskeleton fits in the regulation of intra and extra-cellular signals.
The study of cellular processes will be addressed both from a theoretical point of view, outlining the role of different mechanisms both in physiological conditions, in pathology and during development, and from a practical point of view, guiding the student with examples to study the mechanisms.


To understand lessons well, it is required that the student has acquired the basic knowledge of Cytology, Genetics and Molecular Biology.


Frontal lessons through the use of multimedia presentations and some laboratory sessions to deepen into specific arguments.

Please refer to the AulaWeb specific teaching request for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.

In the context of innovative teaching, the following teaching methods will be applied:

•   Project-based learning: students will have a project to devise related to the topics acquired

•   Peer teaching: the students will elaborate some topics in detail and will explain them to their classmates during the lessons.



1. Interactions between nucleus and cytoskeleton in the regulation of gene expression in response to external stimuli (mechanosensing-mechanotransduction)

2. Classification and functioning of the types of non-coding RNA in gene expression (microRNA, long ncRNA, circ-RNA) and role in development (i.e. inactivation of the X chromosome,

3. Ubiquitin-proteasome system: operation, regulation, assembly

4. Cell quality control systems (UPR, ERAD, RQC)

5. Types of autophagy (microautophagy, mediated by chaperone, macroautophagy, independent and dependent ubiquitin organellophagy); role of autophagy in reproduction.

6. Role of the cytoskeleton in macroautophagy: microfilaments and microtubules in the formation of autophagosomes and in the transport of vesicles.

7. Mutual regulation between autophagy and apoptosis: role of autophagic proteins, cytoskeleton and autophagosomes

8. Proteins aggregation and cellular response

9. Description of cellular and molecular tools for the study of the analysed mechanisms (sensor plasmids to evaluate the functioning of the UPS system, autophagy, reporter plasmids to study the effect of microRNA, planning of experimental approaches and examples)

10. Cell migration: 1D, 2D and 3D migration differential gene expression, cytoskeleton and regulation of focal adhesion formation, single and collective migration.

11. Increasingly complex cellular models: single-layer, 2D, 3D, organoid, 4D systems.

12. Stem cells: classification, characteristics; production and use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and MSCs with main attention to their secretome.

13. Epithelium-mesenchyme transition and mesenchyme-epithelium transition: events that characterize the two processes and mechanisms of mutual regulation and their role in the generation of iPSCs.

14. Intercellular communication through cellular processes cytonema and "tunneling nanotubes": role of the cytoskeleton in their formation; use of these mechanisms in signaling between stem cells and in the propagation of protein aggregates or organelles between neurons and astrocytes.

At the end of the lessons a laboratory session will be organized in which the student will prepare a cell culture slide and analyze it under a fluorescence microscope.


For each lesson, articles and if available videos on the topic will be provided on AulaWeb, in addition to slides used during frontal lessons.

For some topics the book Bruce Alberts Alexander Johnson Julian Lewis David Morgan Martin Raff Keith Roberts Peter Walter "Molecular biology of the cell", ed. Zanichelli can be used.



The lessons will take place during the second semester.

For lessons start and timetable go to the link:

Please check the module Aulaweb page for timetable updates dependent on the sanitary and epidemic situation.




The election exam method will be the written test (open-ended questions on general and specific topics).
Please refer to the AulaWeb specific teaching request for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


During the exam, the level of acquisition of the notions given during the course and the student's ability to process them critically will be assessed. The questions will cover both general and specific topics. The ability to autonomously make connections between the various topics of the lessons will be positively evaluated.


Attendance is recommended.