Protein Targeting Gone Awry
The Importance of Proper Localization
Department of Biology
New Mexico State University
This case study synthesizes students' knowledge of the central dogma and cell structure by examining a rare health disorder in order to understand protein targeting and its medical consequences. Students first identify the molecular alteration in affected members of a family with renal Fanconi syndrome as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (2014). Students then use an online bioinformatics tool to analyze the wildtype and mutant proteins and examine their subcellular localization. Finally, students use this information to explain the symptoms of affected family members. The case is delivered with a PowerPoint presentation that includes a selection of brainstorming prompts and "clicker questions." Students complete a worksheet (included in the teaching notes) before class, making the activity suitable for a flipped classroom. A second worksheet (also included in the teaching notes) is completed during class. The case is written for an introductory biology course for majors, but could also be used as a unit capstone in a non-majors human biology course; the case is also scalable to upper division courses in physiology that specifically explore kidney function.
- Define the sequence and location of a protein targeting sequence.
- Use open-access bioinformatics tools to analyze proteins for the presence or absence of specific protein targeting sequences.
- Predict the localization of proteins, given their targeting sequences.
- Explain specific symptoms associated with inappropriate protein targeting.
Keywordsperoxisome; lysosome; kidney; protein targeting; Fanconi syndrome; mitochondria
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsClicker, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Cell Biology | Physiology | Genetics / Heredity | Molecular Biology |