Toxins and biomembranes

Subject description

The subject will cover the activity of selected toxins in biochemical and regulatory processes in cells. Emphasis will be on unravelling mechanisms of these toxins, especially in relation to binding and insertion into the membranes, and on discovering specific membrane domains and structural motifs of toxins responsible for cell damage. Another stress will be on studying the impact of certain toxins on cell signalling pathways and, consequently, on the functioning of affected cells (exocytosis, apoptosis etc.). The use of membrane-active toxins in biomedicine, biotechnology and pharmacology will be demonstrated on chosen examples.

The subject will provide contents covering: (i) mechanisms of action of selected citolytic toxins on membranes i.e. (actinoporins from sea anemones, fungal proteins ostreolysins, bacterial CDC cytolysins, perforin and other MACPF proteins, alkylpyridiium polymers from marine sponges and their synthetic analogues), their mode of action and their impact on cell; (ii) toxic phospholipases from snake venoms, their mode of action, methods of internalisation, binding to cell proteins and influence on cell signalling pathways and exocitosis.

The subject is taught in programs

Objectives and competences

Students will get deeper insight into research problems which he or she will upgrade in her/his doctoral thesis. The contents are not intended to broaden theoretical knowledge but should introduce specific problems, indicate methods and techniques with which the problem can be addressed. Student should get familiar with previous research in the field of their doctoral thesis.

Teaching and learning methods

Frontal ex-cathedra teaching (5 hr per lecturer); preparation and supervision of Journal clubs; preparation of problem tasks, discussion and consultation. Asesement and correction of problem solutions.

Expected study results

Such an approach should result in the proper planning of research experiments which can test the hypotheses raised in the doctoral thesis.

Basic sources and literature

Pregledni članki in novejši znanstveni članki s področja/Review papers and recent scientific papers

Stay up to date

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering Tržaška cesta 25, 1000 Ljubljana

E: T:  01 4768 411