An advanced lesson that requires students to analyze partial DNA sequences of the Mc1r gene and identify the effects of mutations on the MC1R protein pathway.
Appropriate for: high school biology (AP, IB), introductory college biology.
This lesson serves as an extension to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute short film The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation. Students will use amino acid sequences from the rock pocket mouse genome to illustrate the different levels of protein structure and the relationship between a protein’s structure and function. In addition, students analyze the MC1R signaling pathway in both light- and dark-colored rock pocket mouse populations. Through their analysis, students will come to understand the concepts of cell signaling. Finally, students hypothesize how the change in sequence and thus protein function might directly affect the coat-color cell signaling pathway of the rock pocket mouse populations.
NGSS (April 2013)
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS3-1, HS.LS1.A, HS.LS4.B, HS.LS4.C
Common Core (2010)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7
AP Biology (2012–13)
3.D.1, 3.D.3, 4.A.1, 4.B.1
IB Biology (2009)
2.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.3, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, C.1, G.1