Cluster 8: Genes, Genomes, and Skeletal Muscle Dystrophies



Dr. Seyed-Ali Mortazavi, Developmental and Cell Biology, UCI

Dr. Debra Mauzy-Melitz, Developmental and Cell Biology, UCI

Prerequisites: High School Biology, Algebra II or Integrated Math II, and computer literacy

Course Description:
Genes manage all aspects of living organisms. While the genes in most cells in an organism are identical, cells can differ greatly in their morphology and function. This cluster will analyze genomes and focus on how different levels of gene expression help us differentiate between cells and organisms. The development and dystrophies of skeletal muscle will be used as a case study throughout. Through hands-on laboratory experiences, labs, and computer modeling, students will have the opportunity to use new sequencing technologies that are revolutionizing biology and medicine today.

To investigate gene expression, students will isolate RNA and analyze gene expression level using cutting edge techniques such as RNA-seq. Students will practice their experimental design skills and measure gene expression through hands-on laboratory experiments built around the study of skeletal muscle differentiation. Laboratory modules will include the characterization of skeletal muscle differentiation in culture, labeling of cellular components using fluorescent stains, evaluating the efficiency of differentiation, measuring changes in gene expression changes using RNA-seq, and analyzing student RNA-seq data using computational tools. Students will also be able to tour sequencing facilities and tour laboratories active in genomics research. Students in small groups will design their own gene expression analysis projects and will conclude by presenting the results of their findings.