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Homeostasis

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Learning Framework

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Homeostasis
What is the biological need for homeostasis?
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  • Describe why maintenance of homeostasis is advantageous to an organism.
  • Define homeostasis in a biochemical context to both scientifically trained and lay audiences.
  • Describe how homeostatic pathways and mechanisms have been conserved throughout evolution
  • Appraise the costs and benefits of different homeostatic mechanisms to an organism.
  • Relate different environmental factors necessitating homeostasis to a specific adaptation.
How are steady state processes and homeostasis linked?
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  • Explain that a system at chemical equilibrium (or just equilibrium) is stable over time, but no energy or work is required to maintain that condition.
  • Apply the principles of kinetics to describe flux through biochemical pathways.
  • Discuss a metabolic pathway in terms of equilibrium and Le Chatelier’s principle.
  • Relate the laws of thermodynamics to homeostasis and explain how the cell or organism maintains homeostasis.
  • Model how perturbations to the steady state can result in changes to the homeostatic state.
  • Propose how resources stored in the homeostatic state can be utilized in times of need.
How is homeostasis quantified?
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  • Describe experiments discussing how signaling and regulatory molecules and metabolic intermediates can be quantitated in the laboratory.
  • Relate concentrations of key metabolites to steps of metabolic pathways and describe the roles they play in homeostasis.
  • Calculate enzymatic rates and compare these rates and relate these rates back to cellular or organismal homeostasis.
  • Explain that organismal homeostasis can be measured in multiple ways and over different time scales (seconds, minutes, hours, days and months).
  • Given a metabolic network and appropriate data, predict the outcomes of changes in parameters of the system such as increased concentrations of certain intermediates or the changes in the activity of certain enzymes.
How is homeostasis controlled?
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  • Discuss how chemical processes are compartmentalized in the organism, organ and the cell.
  • Explain why biochemical pathways proceed through the intermediates that they do (gradual oxidation or reduction) and why pathways share intermediates
  • Summarize the different levels of control (including reaction compartmentalization, gene expression, covalent modification of key enzymes, allosteric regulation of key enzymes, substrate availability and proteolytic cleavage) and relate these different levels of control to homeostasis.
  • Compare the temporal aspect of different control mechanisms (e.g. how quickly phosphorylation occurs versus changes in gene expression).
  • Hypothesize why and how organs evolved with specialized function in metazoans.
  • Discuss different models of allosteric regulation.
  • Formulate models relating changes in flux through a pathway to other pathways and overall homeostasis.
  • Defend why anabolic and catabolic pathways are compartmentalized in the cell.
How do cells and organisms maintain homeostasis?
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  • Describe how the cell and organism store resources (both in terms of stored energy and chemical building blocks) for times of need and how they mobilize these resources.
  • Integrate homeostasis from the cellular to the organismal level. In other words, students should be able to describe how a complex metazoan can have both a cellular and organismal response to maintain homeostasis.
  • Compare and contrast homeostasis in different organisms.
  • Describe homeostasis at the level of the cell, organism or system of organisms and hypothesize how the system would react to deviations from homeostasis.

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