Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Journal Title

CBE-Life Sciences Education

Publication Date

Summer 2012


Scientists routinely integrate information from various channels to explore topics under study. We designed a 4-wk undergraduate laboratory module that used a multifaceted approach to study a question in molecular genetics. Specifcally, students investigated whether Caenorhabditis elegans can be a useful model system for studying genes associated with human disease. In a large-enrollment, sophomore-level laboratory course, groups of three to four students were assigned a gene associated with either breast cancer (brc-1), Wilson disease (cua-1), ovarian dysgenesis (fshr-1), or colon cancer (mlh-1). Students compared observable phenotypes of wild-type C. elegans and C. elegans with a homozygous deletion in the assigned gene. They confrmed the genetic deletion with nested polymerase chain reaction and performed a bioinformatics analysis to predict how the deletion would affect the encoded mRNA and protein. Students also performed RNA interference (RNAi) against their assigned gene and evaluated whether RNAi caused a phenotype similar to that of the genetic deletion. As a capstone activity, students prepared scientifc posters in which they presented their data, evaluated whether C. elegans was a useful model system for studying their assigned genes, and proposed future directions. Assessment showed gains in understanding genotype versus phenotype, RNAi, common bioinformatics tools, and the utility of model organisms.

Publisher Statement

CBE—Life Sciences Education (LSE) ©2016 by The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). Individual articles are distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s), who retain copyright. The material in LSE is available for non-commercial use by the general public under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License. Under this license, the content may be used at no charge for noncommercial purposes by the general public, provided that: the authorship of the materials is attributed to the author(s) (in a way that does not suggest that the authors endorse the users or any user's use); users include the terms of this license in any use or distribution they engage in; users respect the fair use rights, moral rights, and rights that the authors and any others have in the content.