Lesson Four: Understanding Genetic Tests to Detect BRCA1 Mutations

Students begin this lesson by working through a pedigree chart and Punnett squares for the Lawler family, attempting to track the BRCA1 mutation across generations. Based on the decisions as to who should be tested for mutations in the BRCA1 gene, students use the bioinformatics tool known as BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) to compare individual DNA and protein sequences to reference sequences that are known to be free of BRCA1 mutations associated with cancer. At the end of the lesson, students compile class information from the Lawler family in order to revise their pedigree charts and Punnett squares. In Lesson Four, students learn how laboratory technicians might use bioinformatics tools in their career.

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