Molecular Genetics of Color Mutations in Rock Pocket Mice
In these activities, students transcribe and translate portions of the rock pocket mouse Mc1r gene to further explore the genetic variations responsible for different coat colors as described in the short film Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation.
By comparing DNA sequences, students identify the locations and types of mutations responsible for the coat-color change described in the film. Students will form a hypothesis to explain how a change in amino acid sequence affects the functionality of the MC1R protein, and how that change might directly affect the coat color of the rock pocket mouse populations. Activity 1 is a basic version of the activity appropriate for first-year high school biology students. Activity 2 is more appropriate for students taking AP, IB, undergraduate level biology. It covers the same content as Activity 1, but also includes concepts of protein structure, protein domains, and how the mutation location can affect phenotypic expression.
Student Learning Targets
- Transcribe and translate a DNA sequence.
- Connect DNA changes to phenotype.
- Analyze and organize data.
adaptation, amino acid, trait, variation
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HS-LS1-1, HS-LS3-1, HS-LS3-2, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4; SEP2, SEP6
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 3.A.1, 3.C.1; SP1, SP6
2.4, 2.7, 3.1, 5.2
CC1, CC2, CC3; DP1, DP3