Interactive, scaffolded model
This Activity Requires:
Important! If you cannot launch anything from this database, please follow the step-by-step instructions on the software page.
Please Note: Many models are linked to directly from within the database. When an activity employs our scripting language, Pedagogica, as do some of the "guided" activities, the initial download may take several minutes. Subsequent activities will not take a long time. See this page for further instructions.
Students compare the effect of several different types of mutations in DNA, including nucleotide substitution, nucleotide insertion, and nucleotide deletion.
Students will be able to:
In this activity students can edit a DNA nucleotide sequence and observe how it will affect the sequence of amino acids in the protein and the shape of the resulting protein. With this notion, they can generate different mutations. For example, by inserting or deleting a nucleotide, they create a frameshifting mutation, and compare the effect with less dramatic substitution mutations. Students reinforce the idea that frameshift mutations typically lead to multiple changes in the amino acid sequence and the appearance of a non-functional protein. If the protein were essential for the living cell, such a mutation would be lethal.
A mathematical codon exercise can help students figure out the redundancy concept of the codons. Ask your students to figure out how many three-letter "words," such as AAA or ATA etc. can be made from four letters A, T, C, and G. To start, you might help them discover for themselves that there are 16 possible "words" beginning with A. The same must be true for words beginning with G, T, and C, for a total of 16+16+16+16 or 64 different words.
Mutations in DNA can result in changes in the sequence of amino acids of a protein (its primary structure). Mutations may lead to changes in protein structure, in the way a protein functions, and can become the molecular cause of illness. Due to the redundancy of the genetic code, many changes have no effect.
Additional Related Concepts
An activity that looks specifically at the molecular basis for Sickle Cell Anemia can be found at
Last Update: 12/07/2015
Maintainer: CC Web Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Document Options: Text-only / Accessible Version | Printable Version | E-mail this Page
Copyright © 2017, The Concord Consortium.
All rights reserved.
These materials are based upon work supported
by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers
9980620, ESI-0242701 and EIA-0219345
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the National Science Foundation.