Credits: 5

Schedule: 07.01.2020 - 21.02.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Alexander Frey

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation): 

The course organizer can be reached by email,

Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

After the course the students should be able to: 

  • know the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of expression hosts
  • choose the optimal expression host for a given product
  • identify rate-limiting steps and know how to overcome them
  • modify the expression system for improved production and/or improved characteristics of the target molecule
  • select appropriate tools and strategies for genetic engineering

Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

This course focuses on the exploitation of cellular systems for the production of enzymes, therapeutic proteins, biochemicals and secondary metabolites. It is located at the interface between biochemistry, microbiology, cell biology and metabolic engineering.

The course aims at the analysis, understanding and recombining of natures’ molecular building blocks using genetic engineering and molecular breeding technologies. This allows the creation of new expression and production systems, ranging from microbial, plant, insect to animal cells.
A project work accompanies the lectures where students design a cell factory.

Details on the course content (applies in this implementation): 

The lectures are a mix of theory lectures and paper discussions related to the topics. Be prepared to read, present and discuss some scientific papers during the lectures. Topics will be distributed during week 2 of the course.

The course consists of three blocks:

  1. Part I: An overview of production systems and engineering tools

  2. Part II: Expression of recombinant proteins: limitations and engineering strategies

  3. Part III: Metabolic engineering

In addition, in parallel to the lectures, you will work on a group project in which you will design a cell based factory for production of a biotechnologically produced product. A number of topics are suggested, but students are free to suggest their own project. Kick-off for the project is in the first course week. During week 3 of the course, coaching sessions will be available.

Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

lectures, project work, reporting and self-study

Elaboration of the evaluation criteria and methods, and acquainting students with the evaluation (applies in this implementation): 

Course evaluation is based on the exam (70%)and assignment (30%).

Written exam contains a mix of essay questions, problem solving tasks and short questions/definitions . In order to pass the exam 40% of the total points (12 out of 30 points) need to be obtained.

Written exam last 4 hours and are organized on

  • February 21st, 2020
  • April 7th, 2020

The assignment (group work) includes a final presentation and a written report. The assessment is based on group performance and individual contributions to the group work.

Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Total 135 h

Lectures and Seminars 24h

Project work 40h

Self-study 67h

Exam 4h

Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Materials distributed during the course

Details on the course materials (applies in this implementation): 

Study materials:

  • For each lecture, notes and selected literature accompanying the topics will be made available
  • For certain topics consulting material from course CHEM-E8120 Cell Biology might be helpful

Additional reading:

A general introduction to topic and background information can be found here:

  • Glick, Bernard J. (Author). Molecular Biotechnology : Principles and Applications of Recombinant DNA (4th Edition). Washington, DC, USA: ASM Press, 2010. Available in library.

Course Homepage (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):

Prerequisites (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Grading Scale (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Fail, 1 – 5; grading is based on examination (70%) and project work (30%)

Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Details on the schedule (applies in this implementation): 

Weeks 1 & 2: Part I: An overview of production systems and engineering tools: 

  • Bacteria (E. coli and alternatives)
  • Lower eukaryotes (yeasts, fungi)
  • Higher eukaryotes (plants, mammals, insect cells)

Weeks 3 & 4: Part II: Expression of recombinant proteins: limitations and engineering strategies

  • Engineering of cellular processes for improving productivity
  • Protein N-glycosylation, protein folding, secretion, in eukaryotes and bacteria
Weeks 5 & 6: Part III: Metabolic engineering:

  • Foundations of metabolic engineering
  • Production of small molecules and secondary metabolites

Week 6: 13.02.2020: Presentation of design project (Mandatory attendance)


Registration and further information