Using CRISPR to Identify the Functions of Butterfly Genes
In this activity, students explore using CRISPR-Cas9 to knock out butterfly genes in order to determine their function.
Students first learn how CRISPR-Cas9 identifies and alters a target sequence in DNA. They then design their own CRISPR-Cas9 system to inactivate a butterfly gene and examine the resulting phenotype. The activity includes an optional exercise in which students apply what they have learned to determine the function of a different gene. This activity can be used to review concepts of sequence complementarity, genotype-to-phenotype connections, and mutations.
Student Learning Targets
- Identify complementary nucleotide sequences to plan the design of a biotechnology tool.
- Interpret the connection between genotype and phenotype for a particular trait.
base pairing, complementary sequence, exon, gene inactivation, gene knockout, guide RNA, intron, nuclease, optix, phenotype
Zhang, Linlin, Anyi Mazo-Vargas, and Robert D. Reed. “Single master regulatory gene coordinates the evolution and development of butterfly color and iridescence.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, 40 (2017): 10707–10712. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1709058114.
Zhang, Linlin and Robert D. Reed. “Genome editing in butterflies reveals that spalt promotes and Distal-less represses eyespot colour patterns.” Nature Communications 7, 1 (2016): 11769. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms11769.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
AP Biology (2019)
IST-1.L, IST-1.N, IST-1.P, IST-2.E, IST-3.F, IST-4.A; SP1, SP2, SP6
IB Biology (2016)
2.6, 2.7, 3.5, 7.2
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)