Functional organization of the cell


  1. To acquire knowledge about the organization and functional dynamics of proteins, membranes and organelles in the eukaryotic cell, more specifically, in sorting and processing of proteins, vesicular transport, cytoskeleton organization and dynamics, cell cycle, interactions between cells and their environment.
  2. To be able to characterize specific types of cells, for example, cancer cells and neural cells.
  3. To acquire knowledge about deregulated molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with disease, for example, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. To perform bibliographic search and to develop critical reading of scientific literature to acquire knowledge about a specific theme.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Pedro Matos Pereira, Rita Sobral Moutinho Abranches


Weekly - 2

Total - 24

Teaching language



Students should have basic knowledge in Biology.


Alberts, B., Bray, D., Hopkin, K., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., Walter, P. (2018) Essential Cell Biology. 5th Edition. Ed. Garland Science, Taylor & Francis Group, New York, USA. ISBN-13: 978-0393680386.

Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., Walter, P. (2015) Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th Edition. Ed. Garland Science, Taylor & Francis Group, New York, USA. ISBN 978-0-8153-4464-3.

Lodish, H., Berk, A., Kaiser, C.A., Krieger, M., Bretscher, A., Ploegh, H., Amon, A., Scott, M.P. (2013) Molecular Cell Biology. 6th Edition. Ed.W. H. Freeman. ISBN-1-4641-0981-8. 

Siegel, G.J., Agranoff, B.W., Albers, R.W., Fisher, S.K., Uhler, M.D. (1999) Basic Neurochemistry. Molecular, cellular and medical aspects. 6th Ed. Lippincott Williams &Wilkins. ISBN 0-397-51820.

 Scientific articles published in international journals of high impact.

Teaching method

The curricular unit is constituted by lectures and tutorials.

The lectures will address the theoretical aspects of the syllabus.

The tutorial component consists of a work performed by the students with a written component about a specific theme (e.g., summary of a scientific paper), which is presented orally and discussed with the lecturer and the colleagues. The theme is selected from a set of themes supplied by the lecturer based on the theoretical lectures.

The evaluation consists of a final exam about the theoretical component (60%) and the written work with oral presentation and discussion (40%).

Evaluation method

The evaluation includes a final test about the theoretical classes and a group work about a theme or article with oral presentation and discussion (tutorial component); these represent 60 and 40% of the final evaluation, respectively. The group works are presented weekly throughout the curricular unit.

Subject matter

  1. Protein sorting and processing in the eukaryotic cell: mechanisms of vesicular transport; secretory pathways; protein folding and glycosylation; endocytic pathways; deregulation in human diseases.
  2. Organization and dynamics of the cytoskeleton: intermediate filaments; microtubules; actin filaments.
  3. The cell cycle: overview of the cell cycle; mechanisms of control of the cell cycle; S phase; M phase; mitosis.
  4. Interactions between cells and with their environment: cell junctions; cell adhesion; extracellular matrix.
  5. Cancer: characteristics of cancer cells.
  6. Nervous system: cellular components of the nervous system and their characteristics; neuroregeneration.
  7. Deregulated mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases: protein misfolding; protein degradation; axonal transport; mitochondrial dysfunction; apoptosis; excitotoxicity.


Programs where the course is taught: