Molecular Biology: A Transgenic Mice Tale

Advances in 21st century research and genetic engineering have made it possible to create new genetically modified organisms (GMO). This new technique of manipulating genetic material is known as recombinant DNA technology. In a biotech lab, a molecular biologist (Science Investigator) selects specific genetic information that will either be added to an organisms DNA and/ or knocked out of the DNA. An organism that has newly inserted DNA, or genetic material removed and/ or replaced, is called transgenic.

Many of the mice, rats, monkeys, and other animals used in scientific research are transgenic species. This multi-lesson unit will follow a transgenic mouse’s tale from genetic manipulation, to the birth of founder mice, lab research, then ultimately to the end and sacrifice of the animal for scientific research.

Lesson 1: Molecular Biology: A Transgenic Mice Tale

In the first lesson, students will connect with 21st Century Science by taking the role of science investigator (molecular biologist) and simulating the creation of a knockout transgenic mouse using genetic engineering and biotechnical medical research.

Lesson 2: Molecular Biology: The Mouse’s Birthday Cake

In this lesson the students will learn the types of tools used in a molecular biology lab and simulate the protocol of preparing food for research animals. Students will also create a food treat high in fats and carbohydrates then calculate the total number of calories per serving and biochemical food energy for cellular respiration.

Lesson 3: Molecular Biology: Will Research Using Mice Help Find a Cure for Obesity?

This lesson explores how scientists are using molecular research to find a remedy for weight gain in humans. Students will exercise to burn calories, discuss the relationship between societies on biotechnology, and then finally read a scientific article on the Wnt10b protein transgenic mouse.

Author: Martha Tedrow

Download a zip file of the lessons and the supporting documents.