Mining Phenotypes: Reverse Genetics with Arabidopsis Mutants


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ID Number:103
Learning Objective:

Explain the concept of gene or protein sequence conservation..
Discuss why some sequences might be conserved while others might not. Use NCBI protein BLAST, multiple alignment and distance trees to identify potential homologous proteins. Use Araport data to evaluate protein homology. Understand protein-protein interactions, co-expression and gene expression. Propose and defend their claim about the feasibility of using a plant model to study a human genetic disease.

Author:Andrea Cobb, Ph.D.
Materials Needed:Computers with internet access (students may work individually or in pairs)
Recommended Level:9-12, College Level



In this lesson, students will utilize bioinformatics tools and concepts to examine whether a plant model has adequate homology so that it might prove useful in studying a human genetic disease. In Part B, students first Engage their prior knowledge of conserved elements by using the metaphor of recipes handed down from one generation to the next, identifying reasons that recipes might change over time. They transition the discussion from recipe metaphor to gene by comparing and contrasting a gene with a recipe. Finally, they predict features of one gene that might make it a version of another gene. Next, students Explore participate in the process of determining homology using NCBI BLASTp and data from They practice finding conserved amino acid sequences, performing multiple alignments and constructing distance trees for homologous proteins. From Araport, students will gather data about gene function, expression, protein-protein interactions, and functional protein domains. During the Explain phase, students will argue for or against the proposed plant model using evidence gathered. They will Extend or Elaborate their learning by researching similar work in the literature and proposing an experiment or by repeating the homology-determining process using a disease gene of their own interest. They Learning will be Evaluated as teachers and students use rubric provided to assess their written arguments.

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