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Wiggles Isn’t Wiggling: Apoptosis Edition

The Feasibility of Cancer Treatment for the Family Dog


Sigrid A. Carle
Biology Department
Hobart and William Smith Colleges


This case study tells the story of a family pet that is diagnosed with cancer.  Claire learns that her dog Wiggles has lymphoma, and that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) offer a potential treatment. Students integrate material related to the central dogma as they learn how HDACi work and their potential in treating cancer. Finally, students are asked to decide the feasibility of cancer treatment for a family dog.  This case study is closely related to another by the same author: "Wiggles Isn't Wiggling: Gene Expression Edition." Both cases were written for the same course and share the same basic story. The apoptosis edition is used as a review for the section on cell cycle regulation and signal transduction pathways. The gene expression version is used at the end of the section on regulation of gene expression. Although there is some overlap, the two cases have different sets of objectives and question sets (with the exception of the final assignment).

  • Explain the function of particular proteins in the apoptosis pathway.
  • Use a signal transduction pathway to determine how a cancer treatment induces apoptosis.
  • Design an experiment to determine if a potential HDACi causes apoptosis using proper controls, reagents, and experimental techniques. Predict the results that could be obtained from such an experiment.
  • Discuss feasibility of cancer treatment in the context of a pet dog.
Keywords: epigenetics; histones; histone acetyltransferases; histone deacetylase; depsipeptides; cancer; cell cycle control; apoptosis; chromatin; gene expression; signal transduction
Topical Area: Ethics, Scientific method
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Cell Biology   Biochemistry   Medicine (General)   Molecular Biology  
Date Posted: 10/5/2017
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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