Bi422 Protein Toxins

Bi422/522 Protein Toxins in Cell Biology

Dr. Philip Washbourne <>

Course Description and Goals: 

This course investigates the mechanisms used by protein toxins to kill or debilitate humans and other animals and how they have been used as molecular scalpels to dissect important questions in cell and neurobiology. Bacterial pathogens, predatory animals and prey have devised toxins to kill or defend themselves from being killed. These toxins have been studied in order to treat humans against these medical challenges. The research has led, however, to understanding fundamental questions of cell and neurobiology such as neurosecretion, membrane trafficking, synapse formation and membrane channel properties. Toxins covered include tetanus toxin, botulinum neurotoxin (Botox), anthrax, cholera toxin, various snake toxins and ricin. This course not only aims to inform students of mechanisms involved in these kinds of intoxication, but hopes to show how using toxins as molecular tools can greatly advance cell biology.

Course requirements: 

Students are required to attend class, having read the assigned material and to participate in class discussions. Each graduate student will present at least one paper from the primary literature. There will be a graded mid-term research essay and a graded take-home final exam.


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