Molecular Biology Lab Class (BIOL 410)
In the Molecular Biology Laboratory class (Biol 410), students conduct hypothesis-driven, inquiry-based scientific research to identify new small proteins expressed in the bacterium Escherichia coli. To do this, students evaluate candidate short open reading frames (sORFs) using bioinformatics, and then use this information to choose a candidate sORF that they hypothesize encodes an expressed protein. The students then use common molecular biological and bacteriological techniques to introduce an epitope tag downstream of the selected sORF on the E. coli chromosome. In addition, students construct a positive control plasmid that contains the tagged sORF and expresses the small protein. As a final experiment, students conduct a western blot to assay for small protein synthesis in exponential and stationary phase bacterial cells.
In subsequent semesters, undergraduate students that take the Molecular Biology Laboratory class have the option of conducting independent research to investigate the regulation and biochemical characteristics of the newly-discovered small proteins. Ultimately, this project gives students the opportunity to perform hypothesis-driven research while learning basic molecular biological, bacteriological, and biochemical techniques. In addition, information gained about small protein abundance, expression, and biochemical characteristics will provide a foundation for elucidating the prevalence and function of these enigmatic proteins.
Funding for this research is provided by a CAREER grant to Dr. Hemm from the National Science Foundation.
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The BIOL 410 classes of spring 2016 were able to identify one small protein!
The BIOL 410 classes of fall 2016 were able to identify two small proteins!
The BIOL 410 classes of spring 2015 were able to identify three small proteins!
The BIOL 410.002 of spring 2014 was able to identify three small proteins!
The BIOL 410.001 class of fall 2013 was able to identify seven small proteins!
The BIOL 410 class of Fall 2012 identified one small protein!
The BIOL 410 class of Spring 2012 identified four small proteins!