Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
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Integrating experience with databases, bioinformatics, and wet lab exercises for students in an introductory genetics course

Publication Date Jul 29, 2022

Abstract

Students often have no exposure to the incredible amount of genomic and proteomic data that is freely and easily accessible online. Becoming familiar with these resources, and seeing how they could be applied to a specific research question, is a prerequisite for students to apply them to their own scientific development. Many students have to "see it" and "do it" before they "get it." This paper describes a teaching laboratory for undergraduate Genetics students that combines exploration of several publicly available databases with some simple bioinformatic exercises and "'real" live experience in a wet lab exercise. The goal is to teach skills in applying genomic data to a real scientific question. In this exercise, students identify a target protein after exploring several protein and signal transduction databases, such as the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes database. They then search for the encoding RNA in a newly available sea star mature egg transcriptome database and for the DNA in an existing sea star genome database. The students design primers against specific regions or domains in their target RNA and amplify these by reverse transcription PCR against RNA purified from fresh sea star eggs. The PCR reactions are analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis. It is hoped that the combination of the computational biology exercises with the real lab work will excite the students and stimulate them to explore this exciting new biology further.

Concepts

Introductory Genetics Course Sea Star Introductory Genetics Genetics Course Live Experience Laboratory For Undergraduate Students Agarose Gel Genome Database Proteomic Data Target RNA

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