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Why is Patrick Paralyzed?


Author(s)

Maureen Knabb
Department of Biology
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
mknabb@wcupa.edu

Abstract

This “clicker case” introduces students to a rare genetic disease in which an enzyme is deficient in a critical metabolic pathway—the first step in aerobic respiration. Based on a real-life situation, the case challenges students to make connections between energy production, enzymes, and metabolic diseases. The case was developed for one-semester, majors’ introductory biology course taken primarily by freshmen and sophomores to fulfill a general education requirement, but could be used in any introductory biology course.  It consists of a PowerPoint presentation (~1MB) shown in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students answer using personal response systems (aka “clickers”). The case could be adapted for use without these technologies.


Objectives

  • Understand why energy is necessary for sustaining life (a unifying theme in biology).
  • Appreciate the importance of enzymes for catalyzing chemical reactions.
  • Recognize that energy conversions are dependent on metabolic pathways.
  • Understand the role of enzyme inhibition in metabolic pathways and predict the effects of enzyme deficiency due to genetic disease.
  • Apply knowledge of converging metabolic pathways and enzyme inhibition to understand the treatment options for a metabolic disease.

Keywords

Metabolism; metabolic pathway; adenosine triphosphate; ATP; energy; enzyme; glycolysis; lactate fermentation; competitive inhibition; aerobic respiration; metabolic disease; pyruvate dehydrogenase complex deficiency; PDCD; paralysis

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Molecular Biology  |   Biochemistry  |   Medicine (General)  |  


Date Posted

07/27/09

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Comments


Vera Verga
vverga@edison.edu
Sciences
Edison State College
Naples, FL
02/28/2012
Thank you for this very informative case study. It was a great activity to explain the activity of enzymes and cellular respiration. Many of my students are inspired when they can relate the activity to themselves or another human.

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Laura Wodlinger
laura.wodlinger@yrdsb.edu.on.ca
Science
Westmount Collegiate Institute
Toronto, ON
03/20/2012
Thank you for this amazing case study. My students are very inspired to learn and solve the problem. I was wondering why Patrick did not begin to show symptoms until he was 16. If this was a genetic disorder why were the onset of symptoms so delayed? Thank you.

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