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The Science Behind the ACTN3 PolymorphismLearning ObjectivesThis article accompanies the lesson "The ACTN3 Polymorphism: Applications in Genetics and Physiology Teaching Laboratories." Learning objectives for the lesson include:
- Test hypotheses related to the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Explain how polymorphic variants of the ACTN3 gene affect protein structure and function.
- List and explain the differences between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers.
- List and explain possible roles of the ACTN3 protein in skeletal muscle function.
- Find and analyze relevant scientific publications about the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and muscle function.
- Formulate hypotheses related to the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and skeletal muscle function.
- Design experiments to test hypotheses about the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Statistically analyze experimental results using relevant software.
- Present experimental results in writing.
Discovery Poster ProjectLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- identify and learn about a scientific research discovery of interest to them using popular press articles and the primary literature
- find a group on campus doing research that aligns with their interests and communicate with the faculty leader of that group
- create and present a poster that synthesizes their knowledge of the research beyond the discovery
Sequence Similarity: An inquiry based and "under the hood" approach for incorporating molecular sequence...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Define similarity in a non-biological and biological sense when provided with two strings of letters.
- Quantify the similarity between two gene/protein sequences.
- Explain how a substitution matrix is used to quantify similarity.
- Calculate amino acid similarity scores using a scoring matrix.
- Demonstrate how to access genomic data (e.g., from NCBI nucleotide and protein databases).
- Demonstrate how to use bioinformatics tools to analyze genomic data (e.g., BLASTP), explain a simplified BLAST search algorithm including how similarity is used to perform a BLAST search, and how to evaluate the results of a BLAST search.
- Create a nearest-neighbor distance matrix.
- Create a multiple sequence alignment using a nearest-neighbor distance matrix and a phylogram based on similarity of amino acid sequences.
- Use appropriate bioinformatics sequence alignment tools to investigate a biological question.
A Close-Up Look at PCRLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson students will be able to...
- Describe the role of a primer in PCR
- Predict sequence and length of PCR product based on primer sequences
- Recognize that primers are incorporated into the final PCR products and explain why
- Identify covalent and hydrogen bonds formed and broken during PCR
- Predict the structure of PCR products after each cycle of the reaction
- Explain why amplification proceeds exponentially
Grow the Gradient: An interactive countercurrent multiplier gameLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to simulate the movement of water and sodium at each region of the loop of Henle.
- Students will be able to associate osmosis and active transport with movement of water/solutes at each region of the loop of Henle.
- Students will be able to model how the descending and ascending limbs of the loop of Henle maintain a concentration gradient within the medulla.
- Students will be able to predict the effects of altering normal water and salt movement out of the loop of Henle on the salt concentration of the medulla, urine concentration, and urine volume.
- Students will be able to predict the impact of the length of the loop of Henle on the magnitude of the concentration gradient within the medulla.
- Students will be able to predict the length of the loop of Henle in organisms from different habitats.
Serotonin in the Pocket: Non-covalent interactions and neurotransmitter bindingLearning Objectives
- Students will design a binding site for the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular orientation on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular charge on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to better differentiate between hydrogen bond donors and acceptors.
- Students can use this knowledge to design binding sites for other metabolites.
An undergraduate bioinformatics curriculum that teaches eukaryotic gene structureLearning ObjectivesModule 1
- Demonstrate basic skills in using the UCSC Genome Browser to navigate to a genomic region and to control the display settings for different evidence tracks.
- Explain the relationships among DNA, pre-mRNA, mRNA, and protein.
- Describe how a primary transcript (pre-mRNA) can be synthesized using a DNA molecule as the template.
- Explain the importance of the 5' and 3' regions of the gene for initiation and termination of transcription by RNA polymerase II.
- Identify the beginning and the end of a transcript using the capabilities of the genome browser.
- Explain how the primary transcript generated by RNA polymerase II is processed to become a mature mRNA, using the sequence signals identified in Module 2.
- Use the genome browser to analyze the relationships among:
- 5' capping
- 3' polyadenylation
- Identify splice donor and acceptor sites that are best supported by RNA-Seq data and TopHat splice junction predictions.
- Utilize the canonical splice donor and splice acceptor sequences to identify intron-exon boundaries.
- Determine the codons for specific amino acids and identify reading frames by examining the Base Position track in the genome browser.
- Assemble exons to maintain the open reading frame (ORF) for a given gene.
- Define the phases of the splice donor and acceptor sites and describe how they impact the maintenance of the ORF.
- Identify the start and stop codons of an assembled ORF.
- Demonstrate how alternative splicing of a gene can lead to different mRNAs.
- Show how alternative splicing can lead to the production of different polypeptides and result in drastic changes in phenotype.
A virtual laboratory on cell division using a publicly-available image databaseLearning Objectives
- Students will name and describe the salient features and cellular tasks for each stage of cell division.
- Students will predict the relative durations of the stages of cell division using prior knowledge and facts from assigned readings.
- Students will describe the relationship between duration of each stage of cell division and the frequency of cells present in each stage of cell division counted in a random sample of images of pluripotent stem cells.
- Students will identify the stages of cell division present in research-quality images of human pluripotent stem cells in various stages of cell division.
- Students will quantify, analyze and summarize data on the prevalence of cells at different stages of cell division in randomly sampled cell populations.
- Students will use data to reflect on and revise predictions.
Meiosis: A Play in Three Acts, Starring DNA SequenceLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to identify sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes at different stages of meiosis.
- Students will be able to identify haploid and diploid cells, whether or not the chromosomes are replicated.
- Students will be able to explain why homologous chromosomes must pair during meiosis.
- Students will be able to relate DNA sequence similarity to chromosomal structures.
- Students will be able to identify crossing over as the key to proper pairing of homologous chromosomes during meiosis.
- Students will be able to predict the outcomes of meiosis for a particular individual or cell.
CRISPR/Cas9 in yeast: a multi-week laboratory exercise for undergraduate studentsLearning ObjectivesWeek 1: CRISPR design
- Locate the coding sequence, flanking sequence, protein product, and characteristics of a given gene from the Saccharomyces Genome Database (https://www.yeastgenome.org/).
- Design and defend the design of guide RNA and single stranded template for DNA repair in CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing studies to generate Saccharomyces cerevisiae auxotrophic mutants.
- Describe the qualities of the vector, pML104, that allow replication and selection in bacteria and yeast as well as allow expression of necessary factors in CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, including Cas9 and sgRNA.
- Describe the rationale of and perform procedures necessary for cloning a small cassette (i.e., sgRNA gene) into a vector (i.e., pML104) including; restriction digest, annealing of DNA strands, removal of 5’ phosphates, ligation, and transformation.
- Recognize and design appropriate controls for cloning procedures such as ligation and transformation.
- Describe the method of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), including the rationale for essential components of a reaction mixture and thermal-cycling conditions.
- Locate the binding sites of and design primers for PCR, then report the expected size of the amplification product.
- Describe and perform isolation of plasmid DNA from E. coli.
- Describe the rationale for and perform procedures to transform yeast, including the essential components of a transformation mixture and conditions necessary for transformation.
- Describe the basic conditions required for cultivating yeast.
- Describe the rationale for and perform agarose gel electrophoresis of a given size of DNA.
- Analyze DNA separated by agarose gel electrophoresis, including size estimation.
- Recognize and describe the qualities of a template for DNA repair that allows efficient DNA repair.
- Design an experiment to determine auxotrophic phenotypes.
- Predict the outcome of multi-step experiments.
- Recognize and describe conditions necessary for growth of E. coli and S. cerevisiae.
- Qualitatively and quantitatively analyze scientific data from scientific experiments, including bacterial and yeast transformation, agarose gel electrophoresis, extraction of plasmid DNA from bacteria, PCR, and auxotroph phenotypic analysis.
- Communicate science to peers through maintenance of a laboratory notebook, verbal communication with group members, and writing of a formal laboratory report written in a format acceptable for journal publication.
- Troubleshoot scientific protocols by identifying procedures that are prone to error, comparing recommended protocols to actual procedure, and using positive and negative controls to narrow the location of a potential error.
- Communicate specific potential or actual uses of CRISPR/Cas9 in science and/or medicine.
- Use various bioinformatics approaches to analyze macromolecular primary sequence and structure.
- Illustrate how DNA is replicated and genes are transmitted from one generation to the next in multiple types of organisms including bacteria, eukaryotes, viruses, and retroviruses.
- Define what a genome consists of and how the information in various genes and other sequence classes within each genome are used to store and express genetic information.
- Explain the meaning of ploidy (haploid, diploid, aneuploid etc.) and how it relates to the number of homologues of each chromosome.
- Predict the effects of mutations on the activity, structure, or stability of a protein and design appropriate experiments to assess the effects of mutations.
- Predict the growth behavior of microbes based on their growth conditions, e.g., temperature, available nutrient, aeration level, etc.
- Discuss the benefits of specific tools of modern biotechnology that are derived from naturally occurring microbes (e.g. cloning vectors, restriction enzymes, Taq polymerase, etc.)
- Accurately prepare and use reagents and perform experiments.
- When presented with an observation, develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis.
- When provided with a hypothesis, identify the appropriate experimental observations and controllable variables.
Plotting Cranial and Spinal Nerve Pathways in a Human Anatomy LabLearning Objectives
- Identify and describe the functions of cranial and spinal nerves
- Identify cranial and spinal nerve origination points and what structures they innervate
- Trace the routes that cranial and spinal nerves take throughout the body
Teaching Biodiversity with Museum Specimens in an Inquiry-Based LabLearning ObjectivesStudents completing this lab module will:
- Learn how to appropriately handle and measure museum specimens.
- Develop the necessary statistical skills to analyze museum specimen data.
- Become familiar with how to search an online museum database and integrate supplemental data with their own dataset.
- Strengthen scientific communication skills by presenting research to their peers.
- Demonstrate ability to investigate scientific questions and address obstacles that occur during data collection and integration.
- Increase proficiency in managing and using large datasets for scientific research.
- Make connections between natural history knowledge and morphology of organisms in developing and testing hypotheses.