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Investigating a Eukaryotic Genome: Cloning and Sequencing a Fragment of Yeast DNA
This hands-on lab, created by HHMI Professor Sarah Elgin at Washington University in St. Louis, introduces undergraduates to the molecular biology techniques used to clone a gene. Specifically, students clone and sequence a small fragment of the yeast genome using Eschericia coli bacteria as the host cell and then determine what gene or genes this fragment contains. As they perform the lab exercises, students use the techniques of ligation, transformation, plasmid isolation, restriction endonuclease digestion, and agarose gel electrophoresis. In the sequence analysis portion of the lab, students gain experience with online bioinformatics tools (BLAST and the Saccharomyces Genome Database) as they search for information about their cloned DNA fragments. The process enables students to investigate the organization of the yeast genome. The document describing this lab offers information for both instructors and students. The instructor pages contain a brief summary of the lab exercises and explain the materials needed. They also contain preparation tips and sample data and results, as well as links to background information and animations. The student pages contain a detailed protocol for each exercise. Educators might use this lab in conjunction with college courses that cover molecular biology, bacterial genetics, and introductory biochemistry. It was designed for 500 students divided into 20-person lab sections, but it can be adapted to accommodate any number of students.
HHMI Professor: Sarah Elgin, Ph.D.
Award Years: 2002, 2006
Summary: Sarah Elgin, Ph.D., is an HHMI Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who studies the role of chromatin structure in gene regulation in fruit flies. Her HHMI-funded educational initiatives include:
- The development of curricula and multimedia materials that bring the concepts of genomics to the undergraduate and high school settings and help students become comfortable in using large data sets as a research tool in biology. Courses include a one-semester, upper-level laboratory course, Research Explorations in Genomics, that gives selected juniors and seniors an opportunity to work as a team on a large-scale sequencing project, and a bioinformatics laboratory that lets students use Web-based bioinformatics tools to explore the impact of a particular mutation on protein structure and metabolic function;
- A Summer Research Fellowships Program that enables middle school and high school science teachers to conduct research in the labs of Washington University faculty, learning first-hand about genomics research methods and developing genomics materials for their classrooms;
- A video tour of the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center that provides a close-up look at the equipment used in high-throughput sequencing and includes animations of the processes used to sequence DNA, as well as a related set of online classroom activities and resources; and
- The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP)—a partnership between Washington University and primarily undergraduate institutions—to enable students enrolled at other colleges and universities to collaborate on a large-scale genome sequencing project, using data available through Web-based repositories. The GEP organizes research projects and provides training/collaboration workshops for participating faculty and teaching assistants. The current projects center around regulation of chromatin packaging in the unique dot chromosome of Drosophila.