Comparative modeling of proteins: A method for engaging students' interest in bioinformatics tools

Authors

  • Fernanda Badotti,

    1. Centro de Excelência em Bioinformática (CEBio), Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ-MG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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  • Alan Sales Barbosa,

    1. Departamento de Fisiologia e Biofísica, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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  • André Luiz Martins Reis,

    1. Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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  • Ítalo Faria do Valle,

    1. Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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  • Lara Ambrósio,

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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  • Mainá Bitar

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
    • Address for correspondence: Laboratório de Genética Bioquímica da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Bloco K4/Sala 245, Avenida Antônio Carlos, 6627 Pampulha, 31270-901 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. E-mail: duonlumo@gmail.com.

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Abstract

The huge increase in data being produced in the genomic era has produced a need to incorporate computers into the research process. Sequence generation, its subsequent storage, interpretation, and analysis are now entirely computer-dependent tasks. Universities from all over the world have been challenged to seek a way of encouraging students to incorporate computational and bioinformatics skills since undergraduation in order to understand biological processes. The aim of this article is to report the experience of awakening students' interest in bioinformatics tools during a course focused on comparative modeling of proteins. The authors start by giving a full description of the course environmental context and students' backgrounds. Then they detail each class and present a general overview of the protein modeling protocol. The positive and negative aspects of the course are also reported, and some of the results generated in class and in projects outside the classroom are discussed. In the last section of the article, general perspectives about the course from students' point of view are given. This work can serve as a guide for professors who teach subjects for which bioinformatics tools are useful and for universities that plan to incorporate bioinformatics into the curriculum. © 2013 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 42(1):68–78, 2014

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