Teaching Gene Expression Using Genetic Medicine

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This playlist can be used to teach several core topics in genetics and molecular biology by connecting students with case studies and multimedia about genetic medicine. The topics covered include the central dogma of molecular biology (eukaryotic gene expression), eukaryotic gene regulation, virology, biotechnology, and genetic disease.

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

  • Describe the steps of eukaryotic gene expression.
  • Predict which steps in eukaryotic gene expression offer opportunities for interventions that can lead to the development of new therapeutics.
  • Make an evidence-based claim about what type of virus can be used as a vector for gene therapy.
  • Explain how CRISPR-Cas9 works and how it is used in research.

This playlist can be used in AP/IB Biology courses. Implementing this playlist should take about five 50-minute class periods.

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

This film describes an example of developing gene therapy for a genetic disease.

Use this film to set the stage for exploring the topics covered in this playlist.

  • Before they watch the film, have students draw a T-chart on paper with “Information that I knew” and “New to me” as the two headings.
  • Have students complete the chart as they watch the film.
  • Give students time to talk in small groups about what they recorded, asking questions and clarifying their understanding together (especially related to vocabulary). This allows students to make their thinking visible as they discuss misconceptions, points of confusion, etc.
  • Facilitate a discussion with the class to develop a shared understanding of the topics in the film.

Estimated Time: One 50-minute class period.

Virus Explorer
Topic
Microbiology
Resource Type
Interactive Media

In this Click & Learn, students explore the diversity of viruses based on structure, genome type, host range, transmission mechanism, and vaccine availability.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Before students explore the Click & Learn, pose the question “What type of virus could be used as a vector for gene therapy?”
  • Have students explore the Click & Learn and complete the accompanying worksheet. 
  • After students complete the Click & Learn, revisit the question “What type of virus could be used as a vector for gene therapy?” Have students formulate a claim in response to this question and explain their reasoning using evidence from the Click & Learn.

Estimated Time: One 50-minute class period.

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

In this activity, students review the steps of eukaryotic gene expression and learn how this knowledge can be used to treat different genetic conditions.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Print and cut out one set of “Cards with labels” per student group.
  • Have students order the cards chronologically to show the steps of eukaryotic gene expression.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes.

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

This animation illustrates the process of DNA transcription.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Before starting the video, prompt students to do the following while watching the animation: 

    • Note things about the process that they didn’t realize or appreciate when working with the “ ‘Fixing’ Gene Expression” cards (resource 3 in this playlist). For example, students may realize that transcription is more dynamic than they had assumed from the cards.
    • Observe how the structure of RNA differs from that of DNA.
    • Think about how this process helps generates proteins. 
  • Assign each student one of the following vocabulary terms (repeating terms as needed): transcription factors, promoter regions, gene, mediating protein complex, RNA polymerase, transcription initiation complex, activator proteins, enhancer regions, or messenger RNA.
  • Show the animation again, telling students to focus on the role of their term in the process.
  • Have the class build paper models of the process with each student contributing to the model based on the role of their assigned term.
    • It may be helpful to do several iterations of the modeling while playing the animation in the background on silent. 

Estimated Time: 15 minutes.

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

This animation illustrates the process of DNA translation.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Prompt students to make the same types of observations that they did while watching the previous animation (resource 4 in this playlist, first bullet). 
  • Assign each student one of the following vocabulary terms (repeating terms as needed): mRNA, ribosome, amino acids, proteins, tRNA, codon, anticodon, A site, P site, or E site. 
  • As with resource 4 in this playlist (last two bullets), have students rewatch the animation and contribute to a paper model of the process based on the role of their assigned term.

Estimated Time: 15 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 theme to explore how molecular biology technologies can be used to treat different genetic conditions.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Prior to beginning this Click & Learn, have students return to the card set that they sorted in the “ ‘Fixing’ Gene Expression” activity (resource 3 in this playlist) and predict points during eukaryotic gene expression that would provide opportunities for genetic disease interventions. Facilitate a class discussion to generate a class list of these potential intervention ideas.
  • Assign groups of students to investigate one of the five diseases discussed in the Click & Learn, which are listed in question 4 of the “Student Worksheet.” Student groups can use questions 3 and 4 in the worksheet to guide their research. Have each group present their findings to the class.
  • Have the class compare the predictions they made prior to exploring the Click & Learn to their findings on which medical interventions might be effective. This discussion may lead to a conversation about the varied applications of CRISPR.

Estimated Time: One 50-minute class period.

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 how scientists are using it in their research.

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Assign the “How It Works” section of the Click & Learn as homework. Instruct students to make labeled drawings of the steps on a separate piece of paper.
  • In class, have small groups of students each choose one scientist from the “How It’s Used” section of the Click & Learn, then watch all the videos from that scientist. Each group should then generate three debatable questions based on the videos.
    • Students may need an example of a debatable question to get them started, e.g., “Who should have opportunities to participate in immunotherapy studies for treating cancer?”
  • Have the students form pairs and debate one of their questions using the silent debate style.They should write their question on a piece of paper, take opposing views, and pass the paper back and forth writing rebuttals to each other’s comments. This style provides an opportunity for all students to be “heard” and captures their thinking on the paper for the educator to review later. 
  • As a summative assessment, have each student complete question 5 of the “Student Worksheet” for the Central Dogma and Genetic Medicine Click & Learn (resource 6 in this playlist).

Estimated Time: One 50-minute class period.