Two Stories + Two Tools= Understanding & Predicting Huntington's Disease!

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Objective

Students will gather and synthesize information from case studies and biotechnological tools to predict if mutated genes effects the proteins produced in neurons (eg. Huntington's Disease).

Big Idea

Biotechnology enhances our ability to detect and prepare for Huntington's Disease prior to its onset!

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

       Huntington's Disease is an autosomal dominant inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain, particularly in the Basal Ganglia of the brain which is responsible for involuntary functions of the body. Huntington's disease has a broad impact on a person's functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorders that progresses with nerve degeneration. Chorea, a symptom of Huntington's disease is a neurological disorder characterized by jerky involuntary movements affecting especially the shoulders, hips, and face. In milder cases, this movement may appear purposeful; the patient often appears fidgety and clumsy. It can affect various body parts, and interfere with speech, swallowing, posture and gait. In earlier times of discovery,  the diagnosis of HD was  interchangeable with chorea.

     This lesson, (the second half of a 2 part lesson) specifically introduces students to the molecular diagnostic side of HD and help them to gain an appreciation for the technology that delivers this information. Furthermore, students grapple with the emotional impact of being tested and outcome of those tests (armed with genetic information previously covered) in the case study subjects introduced during day 1 of the lesson.

Essential Prior Knowledge: Prior to experiencing this lesson, students should be familiar with the following content/concepts:

             a) Structure and Function of DNA  

             b) Gene Expression and Protein Synthesis

             c) The genetic basis and inheritance patterns of Huntington's Disease.  

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 the lesson Science Take Out: Genetic Testing for Huntington's Disease. (1 per student pair)

b) A class set of Huntington's Disease Case Study (1 per student) See attachment.

c) A class set of Article Snapshots Medical and Surgical Reporter and Huntington's Enzyme

d) Student lab books.

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

HS-LS3-1-Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring. 

HS-LS1-1-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.

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

MS-LS4-5Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

RST.11-12.2- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

MP1- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. 

Standards Rationale: 

       In the science classroom, students are regularly charged with tasks to collect and make sense of data from readings and investigations. What makes these science experiences powerful enough to retain however, is an instructor's ability to access, stimulate and develop students' higher order thinking capacities for cognitive growth and subsequently establishing sound learning practices. In this lesson, students access, analyze & interpret scientific data using mathematical modeling and analyze case studies to deductively refine a physical and genetic criteria for Huntington's Disease. They utilize higher level Blooms thinking skills such as problem solving and modeling exercises which in tandem serve to intimately connect students to the tangibles and intangibles throughout the lesson. This promotes higher engagement and time on task as students absorb the content at hand.  

Explain

45 minutes

Section Primer: 

          Caspase-6 is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CASP6 gene. This gene encodes for a protein that is a member of the Cysteine-aspartic acid protease (caspase) family. As a member of this family, the primary goal of action in the cell is to plays a central role in the execution-phase of cell apoptosis (or cell death) post-sequential activation of these proteins.  

           In this section of the lesson, students use partial articles relating to significant scientific findings related to HD to construct a timeline that in combination facilitates the stating of existing facts of the condition and the predictive milestone discoveries ahead. The objective is to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on day 1's content and thus provide review for students  and to foreshadow the use of technology to diagnose the disease molecularly and consequently prepare them for the technological aspect of the lesson. 

 Section Sequence:

a) Slide 8-Instruct students to return to their comic strips from the previous day and share out their dialogues with the class so that the class may be reminded of what we covered the day before in class. Distribute both Article Snapshots Medical and Surgical Reporter and Huntington's Enzyme to each student and share that we will use the comic strip content along with the information in the article snapshots to develop a timeline of HD, so that we may set a distinct course for our lesson's navigation. Continue to share the directions specified on the screen. Stress the importance diagnosis on the timeline to the students to help them understand the major objective of the second half of the lesson. 

b) Slide 9-Distribute the *Huntington's Disease Case Study and the Huntington's lab materials/package to students. Instruct them to complete step 1 as listed. Before students begin this task, take time to edify some of the language that they will encounter by explaining how a spiny neuron is characterized (many dendrites) as seen on the screeen and where in the brain these neurons are impacted in the case of HD.

*Note: Students used page 1 of the case study to develop a context around and as a resource for the first frame of their comic strips started in lesson 1. (see student products attached). They will use the remaining pages for this lesson. 

c) Slide 10- Facilitate the task outlined on the slide. Use the video below as a precursor to assist in understanding the reading because the video unpacks the idea of spiny neurons. Use the diagram to emphasize the structures and activities of the neuron activity in the video.

      

d) Slide 11- Read and facilitate students through the directions specified on the slide. 

e) Slide 12- Read and facilitate students through the directions specified on the slide. 

Standards Covered: 

HS-LS3-1-Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring. 

HS-LS1-1-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.

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

RST.11-12.2- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Extend

25 minutes

Section Primer:

       Biotechnology is the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, etc. The all-stars of this field of study are Polymerase Chain Reactiona technology in molecular biology used to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a piece of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence  and Gel Electrophoresis, a method for separation and analysis of macromolecules (DNA, RNA and proteins) and their fragments, based on their size and charge.. In tandem, these tools and processes have helped scientists to map out our genes and have furthered our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of conditions such as Huntington's Disease for potential treatments. In this section of the lesson, students learn to describe these processes and gain a sense of their significance in testing individuals for the HD condition.  

Section Sequence: 

 a) Slide 13: Facilitate instruction as outlined on the slide. Circulate and check on students to ascertain the implication of their simulated gel results. Clarify what banding represents and how that translates into a specific phenotype for HD or non-HD individual during the lab exercises as well as during the class discussions. 

Standards Covered: 

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

HS-LS3-1-Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring. 

HS-LS1-1-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.

MS-LS3-1Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.

MS-LS4-5Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

RST.11-12.2- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

MP1- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. 

Evaluate

20 minutes

Section Sequence: 

      In this section of the lesson, my goal is to provide students any opportunity to summarize the significance of genetic testing for HD. As students present this information from the perspectives of now well-versed subjects of the case studies, they are given the opportunity to write with intent and with both subjectivity and objectivity. The goal is to encourage students to write in with confidence in the context of the science classroom. This section proceeds as follows:

a) Slide 7: Facilitate instruction as outlined on the slide. Huntington's Disease Case Study

Standards Covered: 

MS-LS4-5Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

RST.11-12.2- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

MP1- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.