Course Trailer

About the Course

Proteins are the cellular manifestation of genetic information. They are assembled into a polymeric structure from monomers derived in part from components in our diet. The many proteins manufactured by cells perform a broad range of essential functions — the molecular workforce of living organisms. Proteins catalyze metabolic reactions, replicate DNA, respond to stimuli, provide movement, and much more. Using video lectures, articles, case studies, and molecular models, we will explore how proteins are constructed, how they fold into 3-dimensional shapes, the kinds of bonds that hold these folded structures together, and the immense range of roles that proteins assume ‑ from structural proteins found in muscle to catalysts for cellular chemical reactions.

Purification and characterization are essential to understand protein structure and function, and we will identify a variety of methods to uncover how these tiny machines drive almost all living processes.

The course grade will be based on questions with each video lecture, quizzes, homework, and a final exam.

What you’ll learn

  • Building blocks that comprise proteins
  • Levels of protein structure
  • Forces that hold proteins into their 3-dimensional functional form
  • Functional properties of proteins
  • Nature of proteins embedded in cell membranes
  • Dynamic nature of proteins
  • Proteins as catalysts for metabolism
  • Regulatory mechanisms
  • Role of energy in catalysis
  • Purification and analysis techniques for proteins
  • How proteins are purified and analyzed
  • Applications of monoclonal antibodies
  • Selected methods for characterizing proteins


Secondary (high school) chemistry and biology.

Professor Information

Picture of Dr. Daniel J. Catanese

Dr. Daniel J. Catanese

Dr. Catanese received his Ph.D. from Rice University and did his postdoctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine on topoisomerases and DNA dynamics/structure. Dr. Catanese has lectured for graduate courses at Baylor College of Medicine and associate courses at the

Full Bio

Picture of Dr. Kathy Matthews

Dr. Kathy Matthews

Dr. Matthews received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and joined the faculty at Rice University following post-doctoral work at Stanford. She has served as Department Chair and as Dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences at

Full Bio

Picture of Dr. Liz Eich

Dr. Liz Eich

Liz Eich is a Professor in the Practice, Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Asstistant Director of the RESST Program and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Program In Writing & Communication Dr. Eich received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Genetics from Texas

Full Bio