Transgenic Fly Lab Introduction
Welcome to the Virtual Transgenic Fly Lab. The
lab will familiarize you with the science and techniques used
to make transgenic flies. Transgenic organisms, which contain
DNA that is inserted experimentally, are used to study many
biological processes. In this lab, you will create a transgenic
fly to study circadian rhythms. (Click here for more
on experimental design.) The fly glows only when a certain
gene involved in circadian rhythms is activated. After making
the glowing fly, you will use it to explore basic principles of
circadian biology and genetics.
1. Make transgenic flies.
The period gene is a key component of the fly's molecular clock (Bargiello, et al., 1984; Darlington et al. 1998; Wager-Smith, and Kay, 2000; Young 2000). The period (or per) gene's transcription and translation oscillate in a regular pattern that has a period of 24 hours. A mutation in this gene results in a fly with an altered period; the name period was therefore given to this gene (Konopka and Benzer 1971). (Click here for more on the discovery of the period gene.) This predictable pattern is harnessed in the experiments here to provide a window into how clock molecules change. Specifically, part of the period gene is linked to the luciferase gene (per-luc) such that whenever the period gene is "on," light is produced in the cells where period gene transcription is occurring (Brandes et al. 1996). This elegant model allows us to look at changes in genes simply by looking at the glow of these transgenic flies.
2. Use transgenic flies to study circadian rhythms and genetics.
Throughout each exercise, this window will display information explaining what you are doing. All the interactions, however, will be done inside the interactive window to the left. The small gray box below the interactive window will give you specific instructions on what objects to click on.