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Advanced Structural Biology (2016)

ECTS credits:


Course parameters:
Language: English, unless only Danish participants
Level of course: PhD course
Semester/quarter: Q4 (7 weeks, 9 lectures/colloquia/practicals per week)
Capacity limit: 30


Objectives of the course:
The purpose of the course is to provide the student with a profound knowledge of advanced aspects of macromolecular structure and train the ability to analyze and assess published literature. In addition, applications of structural analysis for research projects in molecular biology and biochemistry is discussed.


Learning outcomes and competences:
Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to,

  • recognize and explain common tertiary structural motifs in proteins and RNA and identify and describe structural domains.
  • analyze and assess intra and intermolecular interactions in macromolecular complexes in a given structure.
  • predict functionally important regions in a macromolecule provided a range of structural characteristics, e.g. three-dimensional folding and surface properties.
  • analyze enzyme-ligand interactions with the aim of discussing specificity, selectivity, potential inhibitory effects and possible reaction mechanisms.
  • describe and compare selected structures from the five subject areas and relate these to the biological context of the macromolecules and ligands.
  • analyze, assess, and discuss the quality of a structure based on published literature and deposited PDB coordinates.

Compulsory programme:
Computer practicals and at least one oral presentation of published literature at the colloquia.


Course contents:
Structural biology is a cornerstone of biochemistry and molecular biology, and the course provides the student with a profound insight into how structural analysis of macromolecules can explain a wide range of central architectural, functional, and mechanistic principles in cell biology. We start with the fundamental structural background gained previously and build on this with extensive theoretical and practical exercises on analysis of macromolecular structure as well as how structural biology interfaces with other disciplines. On the course, we focus on five subject areas, which are introduced, elaborated, and finally analyzed in molecular detail, extracting essential mechanistic, architectural, genetic, and evolutionary perspectives. Original literature is used throughout and constitutes a central part of the curriculum. Course subjects: The structure of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and biological membranes; the structural mechanism of enzymes and catalysis; protein-nucleic acid interactions; protein synthesis, RNA structure, and the ribosome; membrane proteins; the immune system; interpretation and assessment of published research in structural biology.


Advanced level biochemistry and molecular biology and preferably advanced organic chemistry.


Names of lecturers:
Ditlev E. Brodersen, Søren Thirup, Gregers R. Andersen, Lasse Jenner, Svend Dam, and Bjørn P.Pedersen.


Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, colloquia, and computer practicals


Approx.125 pages of original literature + textbook.


Course homepage:
To be announced


Course assessment:
Passed/not passed based on oral presentation


Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University


Special comments on this course:



Teachingperiod: 7 April 2016 - 30 May 2016


Dept. of Molecularbiology and Genetics,Sciencepark (3130-303), Dept of Chemistry Aud IV and IT-Lab 1

8000 Aarhus C


Deadline for registration is 18 March 2016. For registration contact the course responsible teacher (Søren Thirup) by email: will be given to those with a PhD project in structural biology.

If you have any questions, please contact Søren Thirup, e-mail:


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Revised 05.11.2018