MCB 143: Cell Biophysics

Instructor: Jonathan Scholey, Professor of cell biology and biochemistry

(Office hours, 1-2pm, Fridays LSA 3253)

TA: Bess-Carolina Dolmo, BS in Chemistry, Graduate student in Biomedical engineering

(Discussion session, Wednesday 3-4pm, room TBA)

Course Description.

This is a class on the physical and chemical principles by which atoms and molecules form living, moving, reproducing cells. I will supplement lectures with reading material and problem sets or written paper assignments. Grades will be based on participation in class plus take-home problem sets (approximately 40%); one mid-term (approximately 20%) and one final take home paper (approximately 40%).

Lectures will be held in SURGE 3 Room 1309 every Tuesday and Thursday from 12.10-1.30pm.


Th Sept 22nd. Cell Organization I. The Physical Nature of the Intracellular Environment; Thermal Energy, Diffusion and the Low Reynold’s Number World.

Tu Sept 27th. Cell Organization II. Generating Fuel: Proton Gradients and ATP.

Th Sept 29th. Cell Organization III. Chemical Bonding – atoms to biomolecules.

Tu Oct 4th. Cell Organization IV. From Molecules to Macromolecular Assemblies.

Th Oct 6th. Cell Organization V. Macromolecular Assemblies and Protein Machines.

Tu Oct 11th. Cell Organization VI. Introduction to the Protein Machinery of Cytoskeletal Motility and Cell Division.

Th Oct 13th. Actin and Tubulin Polymerization and Force Generation Mechanisms.

Tu Oct 18th. Polymer Ratchets, Force Generation and Cell Locomotion.

Th Oct 20th. Free energy from ATP and GTP hydrolysis and Cytoskeletal Polymer Dynamics.

Tu Oct 25th. Molecular Motors – biophysical mechanism and basic design principles.

Th Oct 27th. MID-TERM PAPER (Take Home)

Tu Nov 1st. Molecular Motors – Structural Adaptations to Biological Functions.

Th Nov 3rd. Kinesins, Dyneins and Myosins in Intracellular Transport.

Tu Nov 8th. Mechanisms of Axonal Transport.

Th Nov 10th. Intraflagellar Transport Motors and Cilium Biogenesis

Tu Nov 15th. X-ray fiber diffraction and the sliding filament mechanism of muscle contraction.

Th Nov 17th. Historical Overview of Mitosis and Cell Division Research.

Tu Nov 22nd. Mechanisms of Mitosis.

Th Nov 24th. Thanksgiving Holiday.

Tu Nov 29th. Modeling a Protein Machine: The Mitotic Spindle.

Th Dec 1st. Origins of Cells – Biophysical Considerations. FINAL PAPER: (Take home).