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The Sound of DNA

Musical Gene Expression


Author(s)

Janet A. De Souza-Hart
School of Arts & Sciences
MCPHS University
janet.hart@mcphs.edu
Joseph DeMasi
School of Arts and Sciences
MCPHS University
joe.demasi@mcphs.edu

Abstract

The steps involved in transcription and translation can be difficult for students to comprehend. Relating popular culture references (such as song titles) to protein sequences can help students understand the conversion of DNA and RNA information to proteins. In this case study, music is used as an avenue for students to approach the processes of converting genetic sequence into protein sequence. Music is also used to highlight mutations in a sequence, as is the case with an example using Huntington disease. This directed case study is designed for a first-year introductory biology course or high school course that covers gene expression. Students should be familiar with some basic biochemistry (what amino acids and nucleotides are, what enzymes do, etc.) and the structure of open reading frames, codons, and basic knowledge of transcription and translation in preparation for this activity.


Objectives

  • Describe the basic principles of how genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to protein, as an introduction to the processes of transcription and translation.
  • Describe the different types of point mutations and assess their impact on protein sequence.
  • Use a DNA sequence to find a complementary mRNA sequence (transcription) and then a protein sequence (translation); then reverse this process to highlight the redundancy of the genetic code and apply an understanding of gene expression.
  • Define basic terms used in gene expression such as codon and peptide.
  • Describe the genetic basis for Huntington disease.

Keywords

Gene expression; transcription; translation; mutation; DNA; RNA; protein; music

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Directed

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Genetics / Heredity  |   Molecular Biology  |  


Date Posted

10/30/2018

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The audio file of the huntingtin "song" below is needed to complete Part I of the case study handout.

  
  dna_sound.mp3 (~1.6MB)

Answer Key

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