Lifesaver Protein Modeling


Christopher C. Chopp

Kalamazoo Area Science and Math Center, Michigan

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2011



Subject:  Living Environment (Biology) or AP Biology

Grade Levels: 9th to 12th


  • Materials: For each group of 4 students



    From DNA to Protein


    From the following nucleotide sequence, transcribe it into mRNA on the line beneath it.  Bracket the codons and then translate it into an amino acid sequence on the line beneath the codons.  You will be making a very short protein – only _______ amino acids long.



    A.A. –



    1.  Compare your protein’s primary structure to the normal protein hanging on the front board.  Is your protein a normal one?  Why or why not?






    2.  Is your protein a product of a mutation?  If so, which type and how can you tell?






    3. Choose 1 mRNA codons from your transcription and write their corresponding tRNA anti-codons. 


                            mRNA codon                                  tRNA anti-codon








    4.  What is tRNA and why is it important in protein formation?

    For Extra Credit, research the length of the shortest protein in the human body. What is its structure and function?



    Color Code

    Met = Knot [start]

    Ala = White

    Ser = Green

    Pro = Orange

    Val = Red

    Arg = Yellow

    Tyr = Purple

    Stop = Knot UAA codon

    National Science Standards:   

    Science Content Standard A: - Science as inquiry



    New York State Science Standards: 

    B2.2x Proteins

    Protein molecules are long, usually folded chains composed mostly of amino acids and are made of C, H, O, and N.

    Protein molecules assemble fats and carbohydrates; they function as enzymes, structural components, and hormones. The function of each protein molecule depends on its specific sequence of amino acids and the shape of the molecule.

    B2.2f Explain the role of enzymes and other proteins in biochemical functions (e.g., the protein hemoglobin carries oxygen in some organisms, digestive enzymes, and hormones).