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Escape the Cell!

Explore the central dogma (DNA -->RNA -->protein) and the production and function of various proteins that ultimately get secreted from the cell
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Use each of these activities separately to show transcription, translation, and protein folding/excretion or use them all together as an Escape the Cell challenge!

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Full Solve the DNA Puzzle to Make RNA

Solve the DNA Puzzle to Make RNA

Full Solve the DNA Puzzle to Make RNA

Materials

Classroom Materials

  • Foam core
  • Markers, in four colors
  • Scissors

Store Items

  • Felt, in four colors
  • Velcro dots (need hook side only)

Color Printed Items

  • DNA –> RNA decoder (see downloadables), one per transcription station
  • Nucleus sign (see downloadables), one per transcription station

Procedure

  1. Hand each student a blank MESSAGE BOARD.
  2. Have students work at a nucleus station to perform the transcription exercise using a SEQUENCE BOARD and the DNA –> RNA decoder by placing an appropriately colored felt onto each velcro dot on their MESSAGE BOARD.
  3. Once their MESSAGE BOARD is complete, students leave the SEQUENCE BOARD in the nucleus transcription station and escort their MESSAGE BOARD into the cytoplasm

From here students can continue toward Escaping the Cell by doing the Translation exercise, or you can talk about transcription editing and damage repair, introduce students to the nuclear pore complex, or discuss other roles for RNA in the cell (RNAi, siRNA, etc.).

Full Solve the DNA Puzzle to Make RNA
Full Cracking the Code to Make Protein

Cracking the Code to Make Protein

Full Cracking the Code to Make Protein

Materials

MESSAGE BOARD

  • Students can use their MESSAGE BOARD from the Transcription Activity or you can prepare a color-coded sequence specific for this exercise if needed

Store Items

  • Pipe cleaners, any color(s)
  • Pony beads, in 8+ colors (our print materials use white, green, blue, black, purple, red, orange, and yellow)

Color Printed Items

  • RNA –> protein decoder (see downloadables)
Full Cracking the Code to Make Protein
Full Fold Properly and Escape the Cell

Fold Properly and Escape the Cell

Full Fold Properly and Escape the Cell

Materials

  • Prepared “amino acid sequence” aka a set of colored beads on a pipe cleaner that correspond to the sequence of a particular protein in the activity (from the Translation Activity or pre-prepared specifically for this activity)
  • (optional) 3D examples of each folded protein (requires a few additional pipe cleaners and beads)

Color Printed Items

  • Golgi Apparatus sign
  • Information sign for each protein being folded
  • Pictures of the folded shape (if not providing your own 3D examples)
  • (optional) Printed stickers or certificates for completion of the Escape the Cell challenge

Procedure

  1. Students bring their prepared peptide/protein sequence (aka beads on a pipe cleaner) to the Golgi apparatus for sequence recognition and folding instruction
  2. Students fold their pipe cleaner protein according to the model
  3. Students cross the finish line/cell membrane with their final secreted, folded, accurate protein as mastery of the Escape the Cell challenge

Further discussion can include exploration of protein folding diseases and other protein functions in the cytoplasm, membranes, organelles, etc.

This could also be an opportunity to talk about the difference between mutations to DNA and effects to protein form and function.

If you had one mis-colored or missed bead on your amino acid sequence, could you still properly identify the protein shape you needed to fold? Could this happen in your cells too? What might be the effects?

Full Fold Properly and Escape the Cell

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