This project was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Structural Bioinformatics at Midwestern Instructional Technology Center in January 2005. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Molecular Evolution: From Sequence to Structure to Function
Authors          Audiences          Overview           Materials          Resources           Future Directions



Robert Barber
University of Wisconsin - Parkside

Elizabeth Shoop
Macalester College

Hewlet McFarlane
Kenyon College


Possible Audiences:

Bioinformatics Course Instructors, Upper Level Biology Course Instructors  


Brief Overview:

The human DJ-1 belongs to a protein family often referred to as PfpI/ThiJ, which is found in all three domains of life. There are currently 658 proteins containing domains with similarity to this family, as given in the Pfam database. The first protein characterized from this family, PfpI protease from Pyrococcus furiosus, forms a hexameric structure with peptidase activity. In addition to several DJ-1 structures, crystal structures for Escherichia coli PfpI/ThiJ proteins Hsp31 and YhbO have been determined, including the quarternary structure of how these proteins form oligomers in the organism. This enables us to formulate a series of problems for students to solve that take them from sequence to secondary and teriary structure to quarternary structure and function.  


Project Materials:

A powerpoint file and a Word document describing a series of problems for teams of students to work on together.  


Resources and References:

See the Problem Document (Word file)