Course Description

This course focuses on advances in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Topics covered will include regulatory RNAs, RNA processing, localization, translation, and degradation. In addition to lectures from the instructor covering background material, emphasis is placed on current research and will involve discussion of primary literature in a round-table format.

The course is composed of the following elements:

Lecture Period: Standard lectures to provide relevant background information based on current review articles. For each lecture, one primary research paper will be assigned to students corresponding to the topic/theme covered in the lecture. All assigned papers for the entirety of the course will be made available to students at the beginning of the course.

Round-Table Discussion Periods: Students are expected to participate in a round-table journal club discussion, where students will either volunteer or be called upon to answer questions that contribute to the discussion of the assigned paper. Students are expected to read the paper and take good notes in order to be prepared to answer questions and contribute to meaningful discussion.

Quizzes and examinations: Students are expected to answer questions around primary research articles. Questions will assess the ability to interpret scientific data, understand experimental controls, and place results from presented research in the context of the broader field.


Minimum grade of 70% in BCH311H1 / CSB349H1 / MGY311Y1


Prof. John Calarco

Contact Hours

12L 24S

Evaluation (Subject to change)

Mid-term exam (in-class):  30%
Final exam (exam period):  30%
Quiz 1 in week 4 :  7.5%
Quiz 2  in week 10 :  7.5%
Participation in round-table discussions:  25%

The midterm will be based on all lectures and papers covered in weeks 1-6 and the final exam will be based on all lectures and papers covered in weeks 8-12. There will also be two 15-minute quizzes, one in week 4 and one in week 10, prior to the round table discussion for that week.

Additional Information

Office hours: After the second hour of round-table discussion day

Topics covered (subject to change):

Week 1: Overview of course, CRISPR editing paper
Week 2: Techniques in RNA biology I
Week 3: Techniques in RNA biology II
Week 4: Liquid-Liquid phase separation (and quiz 1)
Week 5: Alternative splicing – mechanisms
Week 6: Cleavage and Polyadenylation
Week 7: Alternative splicing – consequences for the cell (Mid-Term Exam (in class))
Week 8: RNA export and localization
Week 9: Translation regulation
Week 10: RNA decay (and quiz 2)
Week 11: RNA editing
Week 12: non-coding RNAs

Last updated on May 27th, 2021