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Keywords:

  • Yeast;
  • membrane protein complex;
  • V-ATPase;
  • mutagenesis;
  • PCR;
  • SDS-PAGE;
  • western blots;
  • undergraduate research

Abstract

We describe a 10-week laboratory course of guided research experiments thematically linked by topic, which had an ultimate goal of strengthening the undergraduate research-teaching nexus. This undergraduate laboratory course is a direct extension of faculty research interests. From DNA isolation, characterization, and mutagenesis, to protein expression and structural analysis, the research protocols were adapted to suit the weekly 3-hour biochemistry course. The experiments described are flexible and hypothesis driven, allowing original research to be conducted. Students gain practice in some of the most common techniques used in biochemistry and molecular biology, including minipreps and DNA spectrophometric analysis, DNA restriction digestion and agarose gel electrophoresis, PCR mutagenesis, DNA sequencing analyses, E. coli transformations, whole cell protein extractions, SDS-PAGE, immunoblots, molecular modeling, and bioinformatics. The studies that begun in the classroom were continued in the research laboratory by undergraduate students, and eventually, the results were published in peer reviewed research articles. This research-educational program effectively integrated basic research endeavors into the undergraduate curriculum. It proved to be synergistic by nature: research stimulated teaching and teaching supported research. In our experience, this is an effective mechanism to conduct productive research while satisfying teaching duties in undergraduate institutions, where scholarly research is expected but teaching is the primary mission.