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Exploration of gerontogenes in the nervous system: a multi-level neurogenomics laboratory module for an intermediate neuroscience and behavior course

Exploration of gerontogenes in the nervous system: a multi-level neurogenomics laboratory module for an intermediate neuroscience and behavior course

Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 8(2): A108-A115

In this paper, we describe and assess a laboratory module that we introduced into an intermediate-level undergraduate course in Neuroscience and Behavior (NEUR201) in order to expose students to the new and rapidly developing neurogenomic and bioinformatics approaches to neuroscience research. The laboratory accompanies a topics-based, highly process-oriented course that explores research methodologies and integrative approaches to particular topics in the field. The laboratory comprises multi-week modules that expand upon the topics being covered in class. In the class for which this module was developed, a key topic under discussion is the role played by the nervous system in aging and/or lifespan. This laboratory module focuses on the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), which has been studied extensively. There is a large and ongoing literature elucidating a number of genes involved in determining or modulating lifespan in C. elegans. Students choose a candidate gerontogene expressed in neurons in C. elegans from a provided list for which we have mutant strains. Students use available databases to become experts on their candidate gene and design, carry out and analyze a behavioral experiment. In addition, students use available bioinformatics and genomic tools to conduct a protein sequence phylogenetic analysis of their candidate protein across at least 10 different taxa of animals. The laboratory module thus focuses on the integration of behavioral, genetic and bioinformatics approaches, as well as on the evolutionary considerations of the role played by gerontogenes in different organisms.

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Accession: 053137846

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PMID: 23493645

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