Lesson Five: Learning to Use Molecular Models

****UPDATED April 2015****  This activity has been updated to use Molecule World, a user-friendly molecular modeling app for the iPad.  

Some of the advantages of using Molecule World for this activity are:

  • Better representations of atom sizes
  • Ability to select and change views by touch
  • Easier to use than Cn3D
  • ​Structures can be loaded in Molecule World ahead of time
  • Easier to compare normal vs mutant structures
  • Molecule World has color keys

Up to this point in the curriculum, students have seen the BRCA1 protein represented in a linear, sequence form. In this lesson, students are introduced to the  importance of a protein’s three-dimensional structure. Students engage in a short activity first in which they use a chenille pipe cleaner stem to make a "protein" with a simple function, to illustrate the relationship between a protein’s structure and function. Students then learn to navigate between linear protein sequences and three-dimensional structures by using Molecule World. Students begin by viewing and manipulating DNA—a familiar molecule to students. When students are familiar with the program, students visualize parts of the BRCA1 protein to show how a specific mutation in the BRCA1 gene ultimately changes or destroys the protein’s function. In Lesson Five, students learn how 3D animators might use bioinformatics tools in their career.

We have a short (<2 minute) video to show how this works in Investigating breast cancer with Molecule World in the Bio-ITEST curriculum

Materials:  

1.  Get Molecule World from the iTunes app store.

2.  Download Genetic Testing Lesson 5 Slides updated March 2015 Powerpoint (ppt)

3.  Download Genetic Testing Lesson 5 Using Molecular Models Teacher guide, updated April 2015 (pdf)

4.  Download Genetic Testing Lesson 5 Using Molecular Models Student Instructions (pdf)

5.  Download Genetic Testing Lesson 5 Using Molecular Models Student Worksheet (pdf)