Molecular and Cellular Biology


The main objective of this UC is the acquisition of knowledge in the areas of Molecular Biology and Cell Biology. Students are expected to acquire general knowledge regarding cell structure and functioning, nuclear biology, replication, transcription and translation, the function of the main organelles, as well as the form of cell-extracellular and cell-cell communication.

Finally, the student is intended to acquire skills in recent literature research on topics taught, learn the fundamentals and application of current techniques in Molecular and Cell Biology and be able to present and critically discuss topics taught in theoretical and theoretical-practical classes .

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Margarida Casal Ribeiro Castro Caldas Braga, Rita Gonçalves Sobral de Almeida


Weekly - 3

Total - 53

Teaching language



No prerequisites.


Molecular Cell Biology

Lodish H, Berk A, Kaiser CA, Krieger M, Bretscher A, Ploegh H, Amon A, Scott MP

7th Ed. WH Freeman & Company, NY, 2012


. Molecular Biology of the Cell

Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P

5th Ed. Garland Science, NY, 2007


. The World of the Cell

Hardin J, Bertoni GP, Kleinsmith LJ, ,

8th Ed. Benjamin Cummings Publ. Co., 2010


. The Cell. A molecular Approach

Cooper GM, Hausman RE

5th Ed. Sinauer Associates Inc., 2009


Principles of Cell Biology 3rd Editio


. Scientific papers

Teaching method

Theoretical lectures, synchronous via Zoom.

TP classes at FCT and/or synchronous  via Zoom.

Evaluation method

A) BMC Standards of Conduct 2021-2022

1. The course will work in a hybrid regime: distance T classes via the Zoom platform, and face-to-face classes
2. T and TP classes will all be synchronous
3. During distance classes, teachers and all students must have the cameras turned on. If the computer''s camera is not working, they will have to find a way to overcome this problem, using another device for example.
4. Students must identify themselves by their 1st name and surname.
5. Synchronous classes will not be recorded by the teachers, nor will sound and/or image recordings be made available to students.
6. Only the “chat” will be recorded and made available to students, if you have information that may be relevant.
7. The recording of distance classes by students, without prior and explicit agreement from the teachers, is prohibited and constitutes a crime. If this happens, the appropriate legal provisions will apply.
8. Students who insist on keeping the cameras turned off or with behavior considered inappropriate during classes (oral or written) will be expelled from the classroom and prevented from re-entering and doing/delivering the proposed work in that class.
9. The access codes to classes will be made available in Moodle at the place for each class, or sent by email via CLIP in due time.
10. Students may only change TP shifts in exceptional and duly justified cases. The exchange requires prior authorization from the professors.
11. Communication between teachers and students and availability of materials for T and TP classes will be made via Moodle.
12. The rules for evaluation and attendance of the course are registered in CLIP.
13. These standards may be updated throughout the semester.


The Molecular and Cell Biology course is divided into 2 modules: Molecular Biology module (BM) and Cell Biology module (BC). Since each module is taught by a different teacher, the particular functioning of T and TP classes may differ. However, the general rules of conduct and assessment in the discipline are transversal.

Follow the BM/BC 2021-2022 Standards of Conduct

A) Attendance in the subject:
1. To obtain frequency to the subject, students must submit, individually, in Moodle, elements of work to be carried out during the TP classes of each module. The presence and submission of a number of work elements corresponding to the number of classes taught in the BM or BC module minus 1 is mandatory (eg 6 classes taught require the delivery of 5 work elements).
In each TP class, exercise sheets or other elements of work on subjects of Molecular or Cell Biology will be made available. In these classes, students can be divided into pre-formed groups of 3-4 students/group. During the working hours of the TP classes, students must carry out the work elements in accordance with the instructions provided in each class. At the end of each class, the student must upload an element indicated by the teachers. Only students present in TP classes will be able to submit the work in moodle. There will be a place for uploading documents in moodle every week.
2. To control attendance, attendance in TP classes is also registered by the teacher and/or measured by registration on the Zoom platform.
3. Delays of more than 30 minutes prevent the student from being admitted to the TP class, either in person or at a distance, and from making/delivering the work element corresponding to that day. Unjustified absences have the same effect.
4. Certificates and other valid justifications for absences will only be accepted if delivered in the class of the week immediately after the day of the absence.
5. Student workers, and other exceptional cases, who do not attend the theoretical-practical classes must undergo an assessment (to be agreed with the teachers) to obtain frequency in the subject.

The student who does not attend the discipline cannot take the tests, or take a recourse exam, nor will he/she have a valid grade in the theoretical/theoretical-practical, continuous and summative assessment components.

B) Assessment in the subject

B.1) Evaluation Rules
The final classification of the subject (scale from 0 to 20 points) results from the sum of the marks of 3 components of the evaluation:

i) Evaluation of the theoretical/theoretical-practical component (70% = 14 points). A written test, for individual assessment of knowledge of theoretical and theoretical-practical lecture contents of each module. The final grade of this component results from the arithmetic average of the grade of the 2 tests, rounded to the tenth. The approval requires obtaining at least 5.0 val/14 val in the test grade of each module, and the arithmetic average of the grade of the 2 tests must be at least 7 val/14 val (50%).
The test date is announced at the beginning of classes and marked on the CLIP, and there is no alternative date(s) or repetition of any of the tests.
Alternatively, students can pass the course by completing a 

final exam (Época de Recurso) – marked in CLIP. The recourse exam will be on the matter given in the 2 modules, BM and BC, with 50% of each module''s exam grade. The approval requires obtaining at least 2.5 val/7val in each component of the exam, and 7.0 val/14 val (50%) in the global grade of the appeal exam.

ii) Continuous assessment (theoretical-practical) (30% = 6 points).
The grade for this component results from the preparation of two group assignments during the semester, one on the BM module and the other on the BC module. Each job has a final rating of 3 val.

There is no minimum grade or obligation to do these works. The specific rules of the works will be published at the beginning of each module.

B.2) Conditions for obtaining Approval

Have frequency, have a classification equal to or greater than 7.0/14 val in the assessment of the theoretical/theoretical-practical component (by tests or recourse exam); have a final grade resulting from the sum of the 3 evaluation components equal to or greater than 9.5.

Época de Recurso Exam
Individual assessment of knowledge of the contents of theoretical and theoretical-practical classes. Written exam with a maximum duration of 2 hours. It is intended for students who have failed (final grade less than 9.5), but who frequently attend the course, or students who wish to improve the theoretical/theoretical-practical assessment component.
The appeal exam, whether for approval or improvement, will have to be done in full, ie, the BM module and the BC module. There is no possibility to make partial improvements to any of these modules.

Subject matter

T classes – Molecular Biology

A. Nucleic acids
- Structure and composition of nucleic acids
- DNA as the genetic material
- DNA base pairing and supercoiling
- DNA topologic forms
- Gene organization in chromosomes
- Genomes of model organisms and organels
- Plasmids, definition and functions

B. DNA replication
- Basic mechanism and enzymology
- Semi- discontinuous replication
- Bacterial and eukaryotic DNA polymerases
- Priming, elongation and termination process
- DNA damage and repair

C. Transcription process
C.1. Gene structure and transcription in bacteria
- E. coli RNA polymerase.
- Iniciation, sigma factors, elongation and termination.
C.2. Eukaryotic transcription
- RNA polymerases
- Promoters and enhancers
- General transcription factors
- Chromatin structure and regulation
- RNA Processing: exons and introns, splicing, capping, polyadenylation

D. Translation process
- Ribosome structure and function
- Initiation, elongation and termination
- Genetic code
- Results from DNA modifications

TP classes – Molecular Biology

Class 1. DNA extraction methods
- Phenolic extraction
- Plasmid extraction

Class 2. DNA analysis - part I
- Agarose gel electrophoresis
- Restriction mapping

Class 3. DNA analysis - part II
- UV-vis spectroscopy

Class 4. PCR – DNA amplification – part I
- amplification conditions
- polymerases

Class 5. PCR – DNA amplification – part II
- primer design

Class 6. Molecular cloning
- Molecular cloning in E. coli
- DNA transformation


T classes – Cell Biology

1. The eukaryotic cell

. The cell theory

. Major structural differences between eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells

. The eukaryotic cell as a fundamental tissue unit and as a boundary unit of the various organelles

. The main eukaryotic cell organelles

2. Cell Membrane and Biological Transport

. Structure and composition of cell membranes: Fluid Mosaic Model

. Different types of active and passive transport

. Ion channels and membrane transporters

. Important gradients in physiological processes

. Integration and interplay of transport activity in a cell

. Distribution of transporters and cell function

3. Characterization of eukaryotic cell organelles

3.1. Endomembranous system:

. Subcellular location, relative size, structure and function of smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus

. The role of the rough endoplasmic reticulum in protein synthesis

. Transport and sorting of proteins through the endoplasmic reticulum and the different cisterns of the Golgi apparatus

. Classic protein secretion pathway

3.2. Lysosomes:

. Structural and functional characterization of lysosomes

. Transport via the Golgi trans network and lysosome formation

. Lysosome maturation

. Lysosomal acid hydrolases

. Lysosomes involved in nutrition and cell defense processes: characterization of different types of autophagy (macroautophagy, microautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy)

. The importance of autophagy in physiological and pathological processes

3.3. Peroxisomes:

. Structural and functional characterization of peroxisomes

. Peroxisome formation

. Importance of peroxisomes in metabolic pathways

. Changes in peroxisomal activity and relationship to pathologies

3.4. Mitochondria:

. Structural and functional characterization of mitochondria

. Mitochondrial genome

. Regulation of the active mitochondrial population (fission, fusion and mitophagy)

. Pathological changes related to loss of mitochondrial homeostasis

. The central role of mitochondria in metabolism and cell death by apoptosis.

4. Intracellular Signaling and Signal Transduction Mechanisms

. Communication by extracellular signals and types of extracellular signals.

. Main intracellular signaling pathways and signal transduction: Signaling by intracellular receptors (receptors of cholesterol-derived ligands) and signaling by cell surface receptors (receptors linked to the activity of G proteins).

. Methods of identification, characterization and modulation of some signal transduction pathways through the presentation of practical cases.

5. Cytoskeleton:

. Structural and functional characterization of the cytoskeleton

. Microtubules, microfilaments (actin filaments) and intermediate filaments. Intracellular transport dependent on motor proteins (kinesins and dyneins)

. Participation of cytoskeleton elements in cell homeostasis


TP classes – Cell Biology

Solving exercises and problems, and searching for current scientific literature, individually or in groups, on the subject of the previous theoretical class:

. Eukaryotic cell and cell membrane

. Endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus

. Lysosomes and peroxisomes

. Mitochondria

. Cell signaling pathways

. Cytoskeleton



Programs where the course is taught: