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BIOL – 495/595

Biology of Proteins in Health and Disease

Instructor: Dr. Debbie McKenzie (

Lectures: Winter term, Tuesday and Thursday ( 12:30 – 1:50 PM )

Location: Biological Science Building ( BSB-105)

Objective: Proteins are the workhorse of the cell, serving as enzymes, structural components and signal transducers. The complexity of proteins is initially encoded by the primary amino acid sequence and further altered by a myriad of chemical modifications. Subsequent variation is based on the secondary and tertiary structures assumed by proteins and peptides as they form complexes with other homologous and heterologous proteins.

Folding of proteins into secondary structures is critical for normal cell functioning and is tightly regulated in cells. There are, however, many situations in which misfolded proteins can evade the protein degradation pathways, resulting in cellular dysfunction and, often, disease. Although the proteins involved in these misfolding paradigms are diverse and affect a number of different tissues, the underlying mechanisms of protein misfolding are common. Many involve the gradual conversion of normal soluble proteins into insoluble aggregates. Outcomes of misfolded proteins are numerous—misfolding may result in the protein being nonfunctional or suboptimally functional, dysfunctional interactions may occur or the misfolded protein may be cytotoxic. Consequences can be profound, resulting in diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Prion Diseases and Type II Diabetes.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

General Course Consideration

Exam Dates:

Midterm Examination: TBA
Final Examination: TBA


5% Presentation #1
5% Presentation #2
10% Class Participation (lectures + discussions)
35% Midterm exam (no deferrals)
45% Final exam

Class Interactions: Questions and discussion during the lecture are encouraged.

University Code of Conduct: “The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.”

Plagiarism: No student shall submit the words, ideas, images or data of another person as the student's own in any academic writing or assignment in a course without proper reference materials.

Cheating: No student shall, in the course of an examination, obtain or attempt to obtain from another student or unauthorized source. It is also an offense to represent or attempt to represent oneself as someone or oneself represented by another in the taking of an examination or preparation of any course related activity. Students should refer to the online Code of Student Behaviour for a full description of academic offences.

Resource Materials: Will be provided by instructors and details will be posted on the course schedule.

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