Peptides as Biological Signaling Molecules and Novel Drugs

A diagram showing the general structure of a peptide molecule in the center, with arrows pointing outwards to circled words meant to show the many applications of peptides, from anti-cancer to antimicrobial agents.

Peptide molecules have a wide array of functions and potential applications. (Image by MIT OpenCourseWare, adapted from Dr. Mohammed Shabab.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2016



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Course Description

Course Description

How do we sense hunger? How do we sense pain? What causes growth in our bodies? How are we protected from pathogens? The answer to many of these questions involves small polymers of amino acids known as peptides. Peptides are broadly used as signal molecules for intercellular communication in prokaryotes, plants, fungi, and animals. Peptide signals in animals include vast numbers of peptide hormones, growth factors and neuropeptides. In this course, we will learn about molecular bases of peptide signaling. In addition, peptides potentially can be used as potent broad-spectrum antibiotics and hence might define novel therapeutic agents.

This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting. Many instructors of the Advanced Undergraduate Seminars are postdoctoral scientists with a strong interest in teaching.

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Mohammed Shabab. 7.347 Peptides as Biological Signaling Molecules and Novel Drugs. Spring 2016. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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