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ERIC Number: EJ907450
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1470-8175
Using Osteoclast Differentiation as a Model for Gene Discovery in an Undergraduate Cell Biology Laboratory
Birnbaum, Mark J.; Picco, Jenna; Clements, Meghan; Witwicka, Hanna; Yang, Meiheng; Hoey, Margaret T.; Odgren, Paul R.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v38 n6 p385-392 Nov-Dec 2010
A key goal of molecular/cell biology/biotechnology is to identify essential genes in virtually every physiological process to uncover basic mechanisms of cell function and to establish potential targets of drug therapy combating human disease. This article describes a semester-long, project-oriented molecular/cellular/biotechnology laboratory providing students, within a framework of bone cell biology, with a modern approach to gene discovery. Students are introduced to the topics of bone cells, bone synthesis, bone resorption, and osteoporosis. They then review the theory of microchip gene arrays, and study microchip array data generated during the differentiation of bone-resorbing osteoclasts "in vitro." The class selects genes whose expression increases during osteoclastogenesis, and researches them in small groups using web-based bioinformatics tools. Students then go to a biotechnology company website to find and order small inhibitory RNAs (siRNAs) designed to "knockdown" expression of the gene of interest. Students then learn to transfect these siRNAs into osteoclasts, stimulate the cells to differentiate, assay osteoclast differentiation "in vitro," and measure specific gene expression using real-time PCR and immunoblotting. Specific siRNA knockdown resulting in a decrease in osteoclastogenesis is indicative of a gene's physiological relevance. The results are analyzed statistically and presented to the class in groups. In the past 2 years, students identified several genes essential for optimal osteoclast differentiation, including "Myo1d." The students hypothesize that the myo1d protein functions in osteoclasts to deliver important proteins to the cell surface via vesicular transport along microfilaments. Student response to the new course was overwhelmingly positive. (Contains 3 tables and 4 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A