Fall 2021 - MBB 736 G100

Gene Expression (3)

Class Number: 4215

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Tue, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Thu, 8:30–10:20 a.m.



A consideration of the mechanisms and regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes and prokaryotes.


General Course Description:  

MBB 331 thoroughly examines the regulation of gene expression along the pathway from DNA to protein.  In this course we will follow up with a focus on the field of post-transcriptional and translational regulation. Post-transcriptional and translational regulation has recently emerged as a critical regulatory layer of gene expression control, that influences everything from acute cellular responses to the environments to stem cell biology, human disease and cancer. 

The course will start with several overview sessions on all the steps of gene expression regulation from DNA to Protein. The course will then focus on regulation at the post-transcriptional and translational levels, examining in more detail a number of topics including RNA splicing, RNA editing, RNA modifications, RNA export, RNA degradation/decay and protein synthesis. We will discuss the molecular basis of each process including RNA sequences and structures as well as protein complexes that mediate the regulation. We will look at the impacts of each regulatory step in the global gene expression program of the cell. We will also examine how these processes are connected and how dysregulation in these pathways can lead to diseases such as cancer. Using this platform, we will explore relevant current and emerging technologies and how they can be employed to answer both basic and translational questions. We will also discuss experimental methods to manipulate gene expression and how mechanistic insights can be translated to therapeutic applications.


  • Based on oral presentations and two assignments (mid-term and final) and evaluation of class participation (approximate, may be adjusted depending upon class size etc). Student feedback is important for grading/evaluations.
  • Oral presentation (~30% each): oral presentations in class on a recent paper, updating one of the topics we discussed in class. Students assigned to a specific session are expected to lead the discussion under guidance of instructor. Students in the class will provide input to assign grades for the talk and summary. 30%
  • Assignment (~25% each): mid-term and final assignments in a form of problem sets, paper report or mini-review providing critical analysis of assigned journal article. The report should include big questions, background/literature review, questions addressed by the paper, general approach, experiments, interpretations and discussion of potential problems, significance, and contributions of the work. Students will have opportunities to choose specific articles from a collection. Students are encouraged to talk to instructors (and to each other) about these assignments. 50%
  • Class participation (~20%): students are expected to actively contribute to their group’s presentations, as well as to discussions of topics presented by others. 20%


This course is in person.

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.