We live in the “post-genomic” era, in which the availability of complete genome sequences from a host of organisms offers exciting opportunities for undergraduate research. In this course, we will use some of the strain and clone resources generated by the Saccharomyces genome project to investigate the evolution of genes involved in the synthesis of methionine and cysteine, essential sulfur-containing amino acids.
Investigations in Molecular Cell Biology
Course design and learning goals
Pathways over Time: Our research project
Welcome to Investigations in Molecular Cell Biology, a new kind of introductory lab course that incorporates an authentic research project in functional genomics. It has been said that we live in a “post-genomic” era. Large-scale genome projects have generated tremendous amounts of sequence data, and complete genome sequences are available for thousands of organisms. In a typical genome project, genes are identified largely by their sequence similarity to known genes from other organisms (Goffeau et al., 1996), with the assumption that the proteins encoded by the genes perform similar functions. These “loose ends” connecting sequence and function provide exciting opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in functional genomics research. In this course, students will study the functional conservation of the genes involved in methionine (Met) and cysteine (Cys) biosynthesis. Met and Cys are essential amino acids in all living cells. These two amino acids contain sulfur in their side chains, which allows Met and Cys to play unique roles in proteins.
We expect that students will make novel findings in their projects each semester and that students will be able to build upon the results obtained in preceding semesters. We hope that you enjoy the research experience and we look forward to your experimental results!