Protein Synthesis in Action: Mind, Body and Mutation!

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Objective

Students will use and develop models to construct an explanation of how the structure of DNA influences the structure and function of proteins in the body.

Big Idea

DNA is powerful molecule in the cell that creates life sustaining molecules called proteins.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

    Proteins are large biological molecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues that perform a vast variety of functions in living systems. They are coded for in our genetic codes and are produced through a highly conserved 3 step (transcription, translation and protein folding) process processed know as protein synthesis. The wide array of products range from neurotransmitters to oxygen carrying molecules and are necessary to sustain life as we know it. In this lesson, students will learn how to explain the process that lead to the variety of protein structures in our body and connect this to this molecule's contribution to neuron function. 

Prerequisite Knowledge: It is recommended that students be familiar with the structure and function of cells.  

Lesson Preparations:

In the effort to prepare for this lesson, I make certain that I have the following items in place: 

a) A class set of Science Take Out: From DNA to Protein Structure (1 set per student groups of 2). 

b) Student lab books.

c) Class Copy set of the article: Made to Order at the Synapse or Narcolepsy Article

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

SP2- Developing and using models.  

Standards Rationale:

      Modeling is the process by which scientists represent ideas about the natural world to each other, and then collaboratively make changes to these representations over time in response to new evidence and understandings. It is intimately connected to other scientific processes (asking questions, communicating information, etc.) and improves students ability to recall scientific jargon through association. In the classroom, it is important that teachers engage students in modeling practices, to set the foundation of success in a lesson or instructional unit. In this lesson modeling is used in concert with other science practices in the classroom to promote students’ reasoning and understanding of core science idea presented.

Engage

10 minutes

Section Primer:

        Protein Synthesis is the process by which amino acids are linearly arranged into proteins through the involvement of ribosomal RNA, transfer RNA and various enzymes. Once synthesized, proteins confer a great deal of shapes which provide a variety of life sustaining functions in the body. After some wear and tear, they are replenished through the constant regulation of protein synthesis via homeostatic feedback and regulation. In this section of the lesson students gain a little insight to this biochemical's significance to life and consequently the process that continuously generates it in the body.  

Section Sequence:

Slide 1: Pose the questions presented on the screen to students and briefly discuss their responses. Share that they will now watch a brief video to help them gain some more insight to the questions initially asked. Play the following video and revisit the initial questions posed on the screen. Prompt students specifically to talk more about the significance and ubiquity of proteins in the body in general (composition and function) and then specifically to produce macromolecules that not only help with the construction of neurons in their bodies but their ability to communicate with another as well. The idea is to help students to understand that structures and events on the micro level emerge at the macro level (eg. DNA-Codons-Protein/Neurotrasmitter-Neuron Communication-Behavioral Responses to Environment) and are highly dependent upon their nutritional choices. 

       

Explore

30 minutes

Section Sequence: 

     In this section of the lesson, my goal is to through simple scaffolding and modeling, introduce students to the steps involved in the process of protein synthesis. The idea is for to them to make a connection of what they saw on the video and to firm their understanding of the underpinning processes that make our minds and bodies functional. This activity proceeds as follows: 

a) Slide 2: Read and instruct students to complete tasks 1-2 as described on the slide. After student pairs have constructed and folded their protein, request for students to share out on the process and/or steps necessary to create their final products. Instruct for students to use their models to better enhance or visualize the flow of their thoughts. Allow for multiple students to share out before instructing students to summarize the process of protein synthesis in their lab books.

b) Read and pose the question as presented in step 4 on the slide. The idea here is to help students to make the mental shift of general protein production in the body to  understanding that protein production can be specific to a job and that its job is a function of the final conformation (final fold based on chemical interactionsof the protein. Encourage students to reflect back on the previous unit's notes which avails the specific structures of the neurotransmitters and discuss how the structure of the neurotransmitter itself influences compatibility with the protein receptor being modeled. 

Standards Covered: 

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

SP2- Developing and using models. 

Explain

10 minutes

Section Primer:

          Protein folding is the process by which a protein structure assumes its functional shape or conformation. This process is guided by the molecular interactions of the cell and is sensitive to harsh changes (pH and temperature fluctuations) in its environment. Said changes, can lead to a change in the original conformation of the protein and render it dysfunctional in the cell. In this section of the lesson, my goal is to help students make the connection between the significance of protein folding and the importance of its fidelity in processes executed by the nerve cell like the generation of an action potential or neurotransmission of an Nt.  

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 3: Read and instruct students to complete tasks 1-2 as described on the slide. After student pairs have modified their protein, request for students to share out on the process and/or steps necessary to create their final products. This time tell students to explain how denaturing events (pH change, extreme heat, etc.) impact the process of protein synthesis (from the beginning to the end of the process). Instruct for students to use their models to better enhance or visualize the flow of their thoughts. Allow for multiple students to share out before moving to step 3. 

b) Read and pose the first question as presented in step 3 on the slide. Provide time for a few students to present their illustrations and explanations (impact of denaturing events such as pH change, etc.) to the class before discussing the final question presented at the bottom of the slide with the class as a whole. 

Standards Covered: 

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

SP2- Developing and using models.

Extend

30 minutes

Section Primer:

        A Mutation is a natural process that changes a DNA sequence. This change although local to the genetic material typically has a downstream effect which alters the end product; the protein. In said case, the protein could potentially fold incorrectly and lose fidelity of function. Thus, changing some aspect of the organism's metabolic function. In this section of the lesson, my goal is to help students make the connection between the significance of mutations and its potential impact on processes executed by the nerve cell even when the mutation doesn't occur in the cells that these functions occur.  This section proceeds as follows: 

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 4: Read and instruct students to complete tasks 1-2 as described on the slide. After student pairs have constructed and folded their protein, request for students to share out on the process and/or steps necessary to create their final products. This time tell students to explain how mutations impacted the process of protein synthesis (from the beginning to the end of the process). Instruct for students to use their models and terms learned from section B to better enhance or visualize the flow of their thoughts. Allow for multiple students to share out before moving to step 3. 

b) Read and pose the question as presented in step 3 on the slide. Provide time for a few students to present their explanations (impact of mutations) using their models to the class before moving to the next section of the lesson. 

Standards Covered: 

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

SP2- Developing and using models. 

Evaluate

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 5: Read and instruct for students to complete the exit ticket task as described on the slide. Edify for students what is intended by direct (proteins that are a part of the nervous systems such as receptors, neurotransmitters) and indirect (proteins that transport oxygen to the nervous system) influences before they begin their activity. Encourage them to potentially come up with unique examples if they can, but to reference examples from the lesson if they are struggling to do so. 

Standards covered:

HS-LS1- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.

SP2- Developing and using models.