Transcription & Translation Visual Exercises


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Introduction

The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology contains two processes that control the flow of genetic information. The first is the replication of DNA, which occurs during mitosis and meiosis, and the second is the transcription and translation of DNA to form proteins. The processes of transcription and translation can sometimes be difficult concepts to understand. The following quiz-type exercises have been developed by SWBIC to provide a hands-on experience for students to visualize and fully understand the importance of replication, transcription and translation. Base pairing interactions between DNA and RNA, and the ways mRNA and tRNA interact with each other are some of the concepts that these exercises will quiz.

These exercises are in a puzzle or fill-in-the-blank format. They are intended to be used following class instruction on replication, transcription and translation. If you would like a hands-on visual type exercise for teaching these concepts and others in molecular genetics contact Scott D. MacClintic, or Genevieve M. Nelson, for a copy of “Teaching Molecular Genetics Using Paper DNA Sequences.” A downloadable version is also provided at http://science.loomis.org/Science_dept/downloads.html.

Exercises

Materials
Universal Genetic Code
Exercises 1 or 2
Pen or Pencil
Teacher Directions for Exercises 1 & 2
Exercises 1 and 2 are single sheet quiz projects to be completed by individual students. Exercise 1 has fewer blanks and is therefore an easier version of the quiz. The sequences involved are different in these exercises so they may be used sequentially.
  1. Do not write on the original copy. Only make copies of the original in order to maintain the quality of the graphics.
  2. Distribute copies of the Universal Genetic Code table and exercise 1 or 2 to students.
  3. Have students:
    fill in the missing nucleotides using their knowledge of complimentary base pairing. (Notice that the mRNA strand is complimentary to the bottom DNA strand.)
    identify the 3′ and 5′ ends of each sequence by filling in the empty boxes next to the DNA, mRNA, and tRNA strands.
    use the universal genetic code table and the information derived from the previous steps to fill in the missing amino acids. (Remind the students to be sure they are reading the mRNA strand to find the correct amino acid from the table.)
  4. The keys to exercises 1 and 2 can be found at the back of the packet. A blank template for creating new exercises can also be found at the back of the packet.

Hands-On Puzzle

Materials:
DNA Strands
RNA Strands
tRNA Strands
Nucleotides
Tape & Scissors
Directions for the Puzzle
The puzzle is simply a larger version of the quiz at a comparable difficulty level to exercise 2. It is intended to be spread out on a table and completed as a group exercise. Some of the blanks may be filled in ahead of time to decrease the difficulty level if desired.
  1. Do not write on original copies. Make copies of DNA strands, RNA strands, tRNA’s, and nucleotides using original copies only in order to maintain the quality for the graphics.
  2. Cut all tRNA’s along the dotted lines.
  3. Individually cut all nucleotides along the edges of the graphical box to create an exact fit with the empty boxes in the DNA and RNA strands.
  4. Individually cut 5′ and 3′ boxes from the nucleotide sheet that contains cytosine (C).
  5. Cut along the dotted lines in the DNA and RNA strands to avoid overlapping between sheets.
  6. Optional * Laminate all pieces to make exercise reusable.
  7. Tape DNA strand 2 to the right side of DNA strand 1, and DNA strand 3 to the right side of DNA strand 2.
  8. Tape RNA strand 2 to the right side of RNA strand 1, and RNA strand 3 to the right side of RNA strand 2.
  9. Tape the amino acid Trp to the UGG codon on the mRNA strand to provide the students with a given amino acid.
  10. Have students:
    tape in the missing nucleotides using their knowledge of complimentary base pairing. (Notice that the mRNA strand is complimentary to the bottom DNA strand.)
    identify the 3′ and 5′ ends of each sequence by taping the needed labels in the empty boxes next to the DNA, mRNA, and tRNA strands.
    use the universal genetic code table and the information derived from the previous steps to tape in the missing amino acids. (Remind the students to be sure they are reading the mRNA strand to find the correct amino acid from the table.)
  11. The key for the puzzle can be found at the back of the packet.