From DNA to Organism: A Study in DNA Function for the High School Biology Classroom

Module 5: Structure and function in proteins

Lab letter

Dear Biology Students,

            Good work on your investigations of the AKT-1 gene in the yeast cells. Aren’t transgenic organisms great? So it looks like organisms with the mutation can only survive in high potassium environments. Interesting …

           I found out some additional information about the AKT-1 mutation that you may find interesting. The other research group that I mentioned before has discovered that the AKT-1 gene codes for a protein that acts as a channel in the cell membrane. The channel lets ions in and out of the cell, probably potassium in this case.

            I enclosed a PowerPoint presentation that explains how proteins are constructed from amino acids chains. Some of the most exciting discoveries in science have been in the field of proteomics, the study of protein structure and function. It turns out that in 2003, a Nobel Prize was given to a researcher who was working on the same gene that we are looking at right now. From the PowerPoint presentation, you will see that the different levels of protein structure greatly affect the way that a protein functions.

            I just can’t seem to figure out what would cause the mutation of the AKT-1 gene to be such a problem for our plants. See if you can come up with an answer to the question based on the information in the attached presentation and lab activity. Please write back as soon as you come up with an idea. Make sure to support you idea with ideas from your lab and the PowerPoint! Thanks again for your help!

Structurally yours,

Dr. Berkowitz