Fall 2021 - MBB 723 G100

Protein Structure and Function (3)

Class Number: 4188

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Wed, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Fri, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



Mechanistic principles for how protein molecules achieve diverse functions such as chemical catalysis and conformational switching. Students will learn to critique hypotheses about structural mechanisms, and to interpret the primary literature reporting on structural evidence from X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy.


Mechanistic principles for how proteins achieve diverse functions such as catalysis, conformational switching, and ligand binding. Students will learn to critique hypotheses about structural mechanisms, and to interpret the primary literature reporting on structural evidence from X-ray diffraction, NMR, Cryo-EM, computationally-generated structures and a slew of biochemical/biophysical assays used for studying protein structure-function relationships.

Course details:

MBB 423 is an advanced undergraduate and graduate (MBB 723) course on protein structure function.  This course will be divided into 3 modules in chronological order:
  1. Module 1: Principles of protein structure and structure:function relationships. (Lectures 1-6)
  2. Module 2: Detailed overview of various biophysical, biochemical, analytical, and computational methods for studying protein and protein-ligand structure and dynamics. (Lectures 6-14)
  3. Module 3: Literature-based assignments and presentations by enrolled students focusing on protein structure:function in human health and disease (Students will select their protein of interest and date of presentation in consultation with the instructor).


  • Importance of protein structure:function in health and disease
  • Protein stability and flexibility      
  • Enzyme structure:function
  • Chemical, physical and computational methods of obtaining, analyzing or predicting protein structures 
  • Protein evolution and 5-dimensional structure analyses


  • Two timed exams (worth 20% and 30% respectively) 50%
  • Class presentations and participation 20%
  • Final written assignment 30%



This course is not textbook-based. Course readings and research journal articles will be available in electronic Library Reserves or Canvas.

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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.