Fall 2020 - MBB 721 G100

Nucleic Acids (3)

Class Number: 3059

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: Tue, Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



An examination of recent literature about the structure and function of DNA and RNA.


Recent literature is examined for insights into the structure and properties of DNA and RNA, drawing on a variety of biochemical, chemical and molecular biological perspectives.

Lecture Topics:
1. Sugars, bases, and nucleotides
2. DNA structure
3. Chromatin
4. Recombination structures
5. RNA structure
6. RNA - ligand (proteins and drugs) interactions
7. DNA - ligand (proteins and drugs) interactions
8. Catalytic RNA
9. RNA and the origin of life


  • 3 exams (25% each) 75%
  • Term paper 25%


  • Lecture:  asynchronous (pre-recorded, available online)
  • Tutorial:  synchronous (attendance is not mandatory)
  • Assessments: synchronous exams (3 exams:  October 1, November 5 and December 3, 2020)
  • Remote invigilation:  possibly



  • Access to high-speed internet
  • Computer with webcam


No specific recommended text for this course.  Any standard biochemistry and molecular biology textbook (such as used for MBB 222 or MBB 331) may be helpful.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).