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Module 1 Summary Summary of Module 1: Approaches to studying biology at molecular level

Course Code
BIOL 208
Barbara Moffatt

of 1
Biol 208
Module 1 Summary: Approaches to Studying Biology at Molecular Level
Three approaches commonly used to address biological questions
1. Genetics
Determine normal for the trait of interest
Expose organisms to mutagens and screen for mutants
Forward genetics:
From mutant to gene
Reverse genetics:
Start with gene of interest
Have an organism to express that gene abnormally to learn about
resulting phenotypic traits (gene silencing)
2. Biochemical
Helps identify gene responsible for specific protein
Isolate protein of interest (using column chromatography or any other method)
Determine amino acid sequence (may compare with database)
Create oligonucleotide probe
Screen genomic library and sequence isolate gene
3. Bioinformatics
Once we have sequenced a gene we can check the database to find the
Other members of gene family
Similar gene in different organisms
Amino acid sequences
Map position
Transcription start site
Identify site of mutation relative to ‘normal’ sequence
Model organisms are commonly used to study molecular biology because they are:
1. Small
2. Easy to maintain
3. Relatively cheap
4. Easier to work with
5. We already have lots of data available
6. Have short life cycle
7. Results obtained could be extrapolated to higher organisms
Common model organisms: E. coli, S. cerevisiae, C. elegans, Drosophila, Mus musculus, Xenopus