Biological Membranes

Understand whyt the lipid components of the plasma membrane form a bilayer in aqueous solution.

Be prepared to describe the structures of the major types of membrane lipids including the phosphoglycerides, sphingomyelin, and the glycolipids.

Be able to describe the structure of integral and peripheral membrane proteins.

Understand which substances can pass freely through the lipid bilayer and which cannot.

Be able to describe the difference between facilitated diffusion and active transport.

Be able to distinguish and give examples of ligand-gated, mechanically-gated, and voltage-gated facilitated diffusion channels.

Understand the difference between direct (ATPase driven) and indirect (co-transport) active transport mechanisms.

Be able to describe osmosis comfortably employing the terms hypotonic, isotonic, and hypertonic.

Recall the various types of vesicle mediated transport mechanisms.

Understand membrane bound signal transduction mechanisms especially the details of G protein coupled receptor signaling along with the corresponding cAMP and PIP2 pathways.

Distinguish the primary kinds of cellular junctions: Desmosomes, Zonulae Adherens, Tight Junctions, and Gap Junctions.


Be able to point out the unique properties distinguishing the cells of archaea from bacteria.

Understand how prokaryotic cells differ structurally from eukaryotic cells.

Be able to describe the prokaryotic nucleoid.

Understand the basic structure of the bacterial flagellum.

Be able to distinguish the structural differences in the cell walls of gram negative and gram positive bacteria.

Be prepared to describe the steps of bacterial cell division.

Be able to name the functions of bacterial pili.

Be able to classify bacteria by shape.

Understand the processes involved in the the three modes of gene transfer in bacteria: transduction, conjugation, and transformation

Know how to use the terminology for describing the metabolism of microbial species based on how they obtain carbon for synthesis, how they obtain reducing equivalents, and how they obtain energy.

Be familiar with the language used to describe bacterial chemotaxis.

The Eukaryotic Cell

Be able to describe of the various membrane bound organelles found in animal cells.

Possess a unified structural understanding of the endomembrane system including the nuclear envelope, rough and smooth ER, and the Golgi apparatus.

Be able to describe the regulation of transport through nuclear pores.

Comprehend eukaryotic cell structure in the light of central dogma, i.e. transcription and translation.

Orient yourself for discussion of the biosynthesis of phospholipids, sphingolipids, and plasmalogens with various enzyme functions concentrated in the ER, Golgi complex, peroxisomes, and mitochondria.

Be familiar with the functional integration of lysosomes with the intracellular processes of phagocytosis, endocytosis and autophagy.

Understand the metabolic functions of peroxisomes including beta oxidation of fatty acids, formation of plamalogen, and enzyme catalase activity.

Be able to relate mitrochondrial structure to function.

Possess a solid understanding of the various cytoskeletal structures such as flagella and cilia and their related basal bodies and centrioles.

Be able to distinguish the various proteins of importance in the cytoskeleton.

Signal Transduction

Understand how to distinguish endocrine, paracrine, autocrine, contact, and intracrine signaling.

Be able to distinguish the major structural classes of receptors in terms of their general mechanisms of signal transduction.

Be prepared to describe general motifs occuring in signal transduction including protein kinase cascades, GTPase activity, and activation of phospholipases.

Be able to describe the role of ubiquitinylation and proteosome degradation in regulating signaling pathways.

Know the purpose of SH2 domains.

Be prepared to unpack their acronyms and describe the activity of JAKs and STATs in signaling from cytokine receptors.

Understand why mutant forms of Ras are often found in human cancers.

Be able to describe the chemical reactions that bring about IP3 and DAG production and signaling consequences involving calmodulin and protein kinase C.

Be able to narrate the structural changes that occur upon activation of heterotrimeric G proteins and subsequent activation of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A.

Be prepared to describe the basic structural plan and mechanism of action of a nuclear receptor.

Become comfortable in discussions involving the structure, function, and regulation of ligand-gated ion channels.

Bird's Eye View

Gain a good sense of the outlines of Biology at the main topic level.

Be able to clearly picture the phenomena described within each main topic of Biology and describe at least one or two main concepts from each topic.

Knowledge Mapping

Psychology & Sociology

Critical Analysis and Reasoning

Improve the stamina of your reading attention. Practice sustaining your focus through dense reading material.

Understand the intentions of the writers of Verbal Reasoning questions on the MCAT.