A Case of Genetic Bad Luck?
Department of Biology
Eastern Michigan University
In this case, developed for an introductory genetics class, students meet a woman whose family has a history of colon cancer. Students create a pedigree based on information from the case and discuss what it means to be genetically predisposed to cancer. Using bioinformatics tools from the NCBI database, students identify and examine the mutation in the woman’s APC gene that results in genetic predisposition to colon cancer. Finally, they investigate the biological function of the APC protein to understand why this mutation contributes to the development of cancer and determine whether APC is a proto-oncogene, tumor suppressor gene, or genome stability gene.
- Create an appropriate family pedigree based on the information in the case.
- Explain the difference between benign and malignant tumors.
- Explain what it means to inherit a genetic predisposition to cancer.
- Successfully retrieve a sequence from the NCBI website.
- Use BLAST to align and compare two sequences.
- Use ORF Finder to analyze the open reading frame(s) in a given sequence.
- Describe the functions of BLAST and ORF Finder.
- Describe the functional interactions between APC, β-catenin, and TCF, and how these interactions affect cell growth.
- Describe the three categories of genes that contribute to cancer development.
KeywordsColon cancer; pedigree; genetic testing; APC gene; NCBI database; BLAST; ORF Finder; oncogene; tumor suppressor
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsInterrupted
Subject HeadingsGenetics / Heredity | Molecular Biology | Bioinformatics |