Teaching the Central Dogma Using the Rock Pocket Mouse and Genetic Medicine

Playlist ByBioInteractive
Contains8 Resources
Favorited By
10 Users

This playlist can be used to teach several core topics in genetics and molecular biology related to the central dogma by connecting students with case studies about the rock pocket mouse and genetic medicine. The topics covered include the central dogma of molecular biology (gene expression), mutations, biotechnology, and genetic medicine approaches.

By completing the resources in this playlist, students will be able to:

  • Describe the steps of eukaryotic gene expression.
  • Identify types of mutations and determine their possible effects on the phenotype of an individual.
  • Predict which steps of eukaryotic gene expression offer opportunities for interventions that can lead to the development of new therapeutics.
  • Explain how CRISPR-Cas9 works and how it is used in research.
  • Visualize molecular aspects of transcription and translation.

This playlist can be used in undergraduate biology courses. Implementing this playlist should take about 125 minutes of class time in total, spread out among other discussions and activities.

The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation
Topic
Genetics
Evolution
Resource Type
Videos

This film shows how natural selection and adaptation affects populations of rock pocket mice.  

Use this film as follows to set the stage for exploring the central dogma:

  • Show students the beginning of the film (0:00–2:37).
  • Lead a class discussion on how a change in the information in DNA can change the fur color phenotype of a mouse. In a broader sense, discuss the role of mutations in gene expression and the connection between gene expression and phenotype. Use this discussion to introduce the central dogma.
  • Show students 4:30–5:15 of the film. Tell students they will analyze the mutations mentioned in the film in more depth.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes.

Molecular Genetics of Color Mutations in Rock Pocket Mice
Topic
Genetics
Evolution
Resource Type
Activities

In this activity, students transcribe and translate portions of the rock pocket mouse Mc1r gene to explore the genetic variations responsible for different coat colors, as described in the short film Natural Selection and Adaptation (resource 1 in this playlist).

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Have students work in small groups to complete steps 1–5 of “Student Activity 2.”

    • For Step 5, consider asking a clicker question that asks students to identify which mutation (if any) is a silent mutation.
  • To save class time, assign step 6, the questions at the end of the activity, for homework.
    • If students have not previously discussed membrane proteins, consider telling them to skip question 6.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes of class time.

Genes as Medicine
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Genetics
Resource Type
Videos

This film tells the true story of Molly, a girl with a congenital form of blindness, and how a gene therapy was developed to treat her disease.

Use this film as follows to set the stage for further exploring the central dogma and modern genetic medicine technologies:

  • Show the beginning of the film (0:00–1:23) in class.
  • Lead a class discussion of the question “Recalling what you’ve learned so far about the central dogma, what ideas do you have for how scientists might have treated Molly?”
    • Have students predict points during eukaryotic gene expression that would provide opportunities for interventions to treat genetic disease. 
    • Guide students in generating a class list of ideas.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes.

“Fixing” Gene Expression
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Genetics
Resource Type
Activities

In this card activity, students explore the steps of the central dogma of molecular biology.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Print and cut out one set of “Cards without labels” per student group.
  • As a quick formative assessment, ask each group to order the cards chronologically to show the steps of eukaryotic gene expression.
  • After reviewing the Central Dogma and Genetic Medicine Click & Learn (resource 5 in this playlist), ask students to reflect on their initial order for the cards and record how their ideas have changed.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes.

Central Dogma and Genetic Medicine
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Genetics
Resource Type
Interactive Media

In this Click & Learn, students use the central dogma as a model for exploring how modern molecular biology technologies can be used to treat different genetic conditions.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Have students explore the “Central Dogma” tab of the Click & Learn to review the steps and molecules of gene expression.
  • Open the “Gene Therapy: Leber Congenital Amaurosis” section (can be accessed in the “Central Dogma” tab under “DNA”) and show students the video clip. Compare the ideas students gave for treating Molly with the information presented in the video. 
  • Consider assigning additional genetic medicine case studies in the Click & Learn, and/or their corresponding sections of the “Student Worksheet,” for homework. 

Estimated Time: 20 minutes of class time.

CRISPR-Cas 9 Mechanism & Applications
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Genetics
Resource Type
Interactive Media

In this Click & Learn, students explore how CRISPR-Cas9 technology works and the many ways in which scientists are using it in their research.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Have student groups review the “How It Works” section of the Click & Learn in class. Instruct students to make labeled drawings of the steps on a separate piece of paper.
  • As a homework assignment, ask students to choose one of the scientists in the “How It’s Used” section, watch all the videos from the scientist, and then write a brief summary of how the scientist is using CRISPR-Cas9 in research.

Estimated Time: 25 minutes of class time.

DNA Transcription (Basic Detail)
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Resource Type
Videos

This animation illustrates the process of DNA transcription.

Show the animation to reinforce major points of the process. Have students write down any new information they learned.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes.

Translation (Basic Detail)
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Resource Type
Videos

This animation illustrates the process of translation.

Show the animation to reinforce major points of the process. Have students write down any new information they learned.

At the end of this segment, ask students to reflect on:

  • How understanding the central dogma helps explain how changes to DNA can affect the fur color of mice.
  • How scientists use an understanding of the central dogma to develop treatments for genetic diseases, such as the one that affected Molly.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes.