Membrane transport is a fundamental concept that undergraduate students of cell biology understand better with laboratory experience. Formal teaching exercises commonly used to illustrate this concept are unbiological, qualitative, or intricate and time consuming to prepare. We have developed an exercise that uses uptake of radiolabeled nutrient analogues by attachment-dependent animal cells cultured on multiwell trays. This system can readily be manipulated within a typical 3-h laboratory period to yield reproducible, biologically relevant, quantitative data regarding key aspects of membrane transport. Each 24-well tray of cultures allows a group of two to four students to compare eight conditions in triplicate. If different groups of students test different conditions or different types of cells, data can be shared for an even broader experience. The exercise is also readily adaptable for open-ended student projects. Here we illustrate the exercise measuring uptake of the nonmetabolizable glucose analogue [3H]-2-deoxy-d-glucose. Students successfully tested the effects of competing sugars, putative inhibitors of the GLUT1 transporter, and changes in cell physiology that might be expected to affect glucose transport in epithelial cells and fibroblasts. In this exercise students find the nutritional and medical implications of glucose transport and its regulation intriguing. They also learn to handle radioisotopes and cultured cells.
Facilitating not only the mastery of sophisticated subject matter, but also the development of process skills is an ongoing challenge in teaching any introductory undergraduate course. To accomplish this goal in a sophomore-level introductory cell biology course, I require students to work in groups and complete several mock experiential research projects that imitate the professional activities of the scientific community. I designed these projects as a way to promote process skill development within content-rich pedagogy and to connect text-based and laboratory-based learning with the world of contemporary research. First, students become familiar with one primary article from a leading peer-reviewed journal, which they discuss by means of PowerPoint-based journal clubs and journalism reports highlighting public relevance. Second, relying mostly on primary articles, they investigate the molecular basis of a disease, compose reviews for an in-house journal, and present seminars in a public symposium. Last, students author primary articles detailing investigative experiments conducted in the lab. This curriculum has been successful in both quarter-based and semester-based institutions. Student attitudes toward their learning were assessed quantitatively with course surveys. Students consistently reported that these projects significantly lowered barriers to primary literature...
Multimedia has the potential of providing bioscience education novel learning environments and pedagogy applications to foster student interest, involve students in the research process, advance critical thinking/problem-solving skills, and develop conceptual understanding of biological topics. Cancer Cell Biology, an interactive, multimedia, problem-based module, focuses on how mutations in protooncogenes and tumor suppressor genes can lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation by engaging students as research scientists/physicians with the task of diagnosing the molecular basis of tumor growth for a group of patients. The process of constructing the module, which was guided by scientist and student feedback/responses, is described. The completed module and insights gained from its development are presented as a potential “multimedia pedagogy” for the development of other multimedia science learning environments.
Araújo-Jorge, Tania C.; Cardona, Tania S.; Mendes, Cláudia L. S.; Henriques-Pons, Andrea; Meirelles, Rosane M. S.; Coutinho, Cláudia M. L. M.; Aguiar, Luiz Edmundo V.; Meirelles, Maria de Nazareth L.; de Castro, Solange L.; Barbosa, Helene S.; Luz, Mau
Fonte: American Society for Cell BiologyPublicador: American Society for Cell Biology
The advent of genomics, proteomics, and microarray technology has brought much
excitement to science, both in teaching and in learning. The public is eager to
know about the processes of life. In the present context of the explosive growth
of scientific information, a major challenge of modern cell biology is to
popularize basic concepts of structures and functions of living cells, to
introduce people to the scientific method, to stimulate inquiry, and to analyze
and synthesize concepts and paradigms. In this essay we present our experience
in mixing science and education in Brazil. For two decades we have developed
activities for the science education of teachers and undergraduate students,
using microscopy images generated by our work as cell biologists. We describe
open-air outreach education activities, games, cell modeling, and other
practical and innovative activities presented in public squares and
favelas. Especially in developing countries, science education is
The National Institutes of Health publishes a series of science curriculum supplements for K–12 education that are available from their Web site free of charge (http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements). In this feature, we review two of the high school supplements, Human Genetic Variation and Cell Biology and Cancer. Overall, we find that they are both excellent resources that engage students in learning science content while emphasizing the impact of scientific breakthroughs on personal and public health. In this review, we highlight the many strong features of the curricula and point out instances in which teachers may wish to seek out supplemental, updated information.
The movement of newly synthesized proteins through the endomembrane system of eukaryotic cells, often referred to generally as the secretory pathway, is a topic covered in most intermediate-level undergraduate cell biology courses. An article previously published in this journal described a laboratory exercise in which yeast mutants defective in two distinct steps of protein secretion were differentiated using a genetic reporter designed specifically to identify defects in the first step of the pathway, the insertion of proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum (Vallen, 2002). We have developed two versions of a Western blotting assay that serves as a second way of distinguishing the two secretory mutants, which we pair with the genetic assay in a 3-wk laboratory module. A quiz administered before and after students participated in the lab activities revealed significant postlab gains in their understanding of the secretory pathway and experimental techniques used to study it. A second survey administered at the end of the lab module assessed student perceptions of the efficacy of the lab activities; the results of this survey indicated that the experiments were successful in meeting a set of educational goals defined by the instructor.
This article offers a case study of the evaluation of a redesigned and redeveloped laboratory-based cell biology course. The course was a compulsory element of the biology program, but the laboratory had become outdated and was inadequately equipped. With the support of a faculty-based teaching improvement project, the teaching team redesigned the course and re-equipped the laboratory, using a more learner-centered, constructivist approach. The focus of the article is on the project-supported evaluation of the redesign rather than the redesign per se. The evaluation involved aspects well beyond standard course assessments, including the gathering of self-reported data from the students concerning both the laboratory component and the technical skills associated with the course. The comparison of pre- and postdata gave valuable information to the teaching team on course design issues and skill acquisition. It is argued that the evaluation process was an effective use of the scarce resources of the teaching improvement project.
In this special issue of Biomicrofluidics, a wide variety of applications of microfluidics to tissue engineering and cell biology are presented. The articles illustrate the benefits of using microfluidics for controlling the cellular environment in a precise yet high rate manner using minimum reagents. The topic is very timely and takes a stab at portraying a glimpse of what is to come in this exciting and emerging field of research.
Apps for touch-pad devices hold promise for guiding and supporting learning. Students may use them in the classroom or on their own for didactic instruction, just-in-time learning, or review. Since Apple touch-pad devices (i.e., iPad and iPhone) have a substantial share of the touch-pad device market (Campbell, 2012), this Feature will explore cell biology apps available from the App Store. My review includes iPad and iPhone apps available in June 2012, but does not include courses, lectures, podcasts, audiobooks, texts, or other books. I rated each app on a five-point scale (1 star = lowest; 5 stars = highest) for educational and production values; I also provide an overall score.
Setting up a new lab is an exciting but challenging prospect. We discuss our experiences in finding a path to tackle some of the key current questions in cell biology and the hurdles that we have encountered along the way.
I trace how the American Society for Cell Biology became a strong political advocate for the scientific community. I celebrate how good leadership and an effective staff enabled its energetic volunteer organization to have an impact, but I also ask how the effort can be made more successful.
The large number of experimentally determined molecular structures has led to the development of a new semiotic system in the life sciences, with increasing use of accurate molecular representations. To determine how this change impacts students’ learning, we incorporated image tests into our introductory cell biology course. Groups of students used a single text dealing with signal transduction, which was supplemented with images made in one of three iconographic styles. Typically, we employed realistic renderings, using computer-generated Protein Data Bank (PDB) structures; realistic-schematic renderings, using shapes inspired by PDB structures; or schematic renderings, using simple geometric shapes to represent cellular components. The control group received a list of keywords. When students were asked to draw and describe the process in their own style and to reply to multiple-choice questions, the three iconographic approaches equally improved the overall outcome of the tests (relative to keywords). Students found the three approaches equally useful but, when asked to select a preferred style, they largely favored a realistic-schematic style. When students were asked to annotate “raw” realistic images, both keywords and schematic representations failed to prepare them for this task. We conclude that supplementary images facilitate the comprehension process and despite their visual clutter...
Despite the importance of single particle motion in biological systems, systematic inference approaches to analyze particle trajectories and evaluate competing motion models are lacking. An automated approach for robust evaluation of motion models that does not require manual intervention is highly desirable to enable analysis of datasets from high-throughput imaging technologies that contain hundreds or thousands of trajectories of biological particles, such as membrane receptors, vesicles, chromosomes or kinetochores, mRNA particles, or whole cells in developing embryos. Bayesian inference is a general theoretical framework for performing such model comparisons that has proven successful in handling noise and experimental limitations in other biological applications. The inherent Bayesian penalty on model complexity, which avoids overfitting, is particularly important for particle trajectory analysis given the highly stochastic nature of particle diffusion. This thesis presents two complementary approaches for analyzing particle motion using Bayesian inference. The first method, MSD-Bayes, discriminates a wide range of motion models--including diffusion, directed motion, anomalous and confined diffusion--based on mean- square displacement analysis of a set of particle trajectories...
The receptor tyrosine kinase Axl has been described as an oncogene, and its deregulation has been implicated in the progression of several human cancers. While the role of Axl in esophageal adenocarcinoma has been addressed, there is no information about its role in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). In the current report, we identified, for the first time, deregulation of Axl expression in OSCC. Axl is consistently overexpressed in OSCC cell lines and human tumor samples, mainly in advanced stages of the disease. Blockage of Axl gene expression by small interfering RNA inhibits cell survival, proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and esophageal tumor growth in vivo. Additionally, repression of Axl expression results in Akt-dependent inhibition of pivotal genes involved in the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) pathway and in the induction of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) activity, resulting in loss of mesenchymal markers and induction of epithelial markers. Furthermore, treatment of esophageal cancer cells with the Akt inhibitor wortmannin inhibits NF-κB signaling, induces GSK3β activity, and blocks OSCC cell proliferation in an Axl-dependent manner. Taken together, our results establish a clear role for Axl in OSCC tumorigenesis with potential therapeutic implications.
In this essay I describe my personal journey from reductionist to systems cell biology and describe how this in turn led to a 3-year sea voyage to explore complex ocean communities. In describing this journey, I hope to convey some important principles that I gleaned along the way. I realized that cellular functions emerge from multiple molecular interactions and that new approaches borrowed from statistical physics are required to understand the emergence of such complex systems. Then I wondered how such interaction networks developed during evolution. Because life first evolved in the oceans, it became a natural thing to start looking at the small organisms that compose the plankton in the world's oceans, of which 98% are … individual cells—hence the Tara Oceans voyage, which finished on 31 March 2012 in Lorient, France, after a 60,000-mile around-the-world journey that collected more than 30,000 samples from 153 sampling stations.
While studying actin assembly as a graduate student with Matt Welch at the University of California at Berkeley, my interest was piqued by reports of surprising observations in bacteria: the identification of numerous cytoskeletal proteins, actin homologues fulfilling spindle-like functions, and even the presence of membrane-bound organelles. Curiosity about these phenomena drew me to Lucy Shapiro's lab at Stanford University for my postdoctoral research. In the Shapiro lab, and now in my lab at Johns Hopkins, I have focused on investigating the mechanisms of bacterial cytokinesis. Spending time as both a eukaryotic cell biologist and a bacterial cell biologist has convinced me that bacterial cells present the same questions as eukaryotic cells: How are chromosomes organized and accurately segregated? How is force generated for cytokinesis? How is polarity established? How are signals transduced within and between cells? These problems are conceptually similar between eukaryotes and bacteria, although their solutions can differ significantly in specifics. In this Perspective, I provide a broad view of cell biological phenomena in bacteria, the technical challenges facing those of us who peer into bacterial cells, and areas of common ground as research in eukaryotic and bacterial cell biology moves forward.
Two CD-ROMs from a series dealing with various major aspects of cell biology are evaluated in this paper using quantitative and qualitative approaches. The findings delimit similarities and differences of the two CD-ROMs and shed light on how the programs could be used in the learning process and how they should not be. The overall impression, as well as the graphical and technical features, received a predominantly good rating. The defined target groups were reached (e.g., students in secondary schools), different learning approaches were supported (e.g., discovery and autonomous learning), the CD-ROMs' usability was assessed as being easy and intuitive, and the majority of the evaluators were satisfied with the level of interactivity. Navigational problems encountered in CD-ROM 1 were overcome by a successful implementation of new navigational functions in CD-ROM 2. Most students found the CD-ROM to be a suitable complement to, or an extension of, their lessons. We conclude that many, but not all of the requirements for the various stages of the learning process could be satisfied with the existing CD-ROMs. The requirements not met are discussed to obtain insights that could help to improve the production of multimedia learning material. The use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in the evaluation of learning modules is discussed...
Galileo is reported to have stated, “Measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so.” My group's trajectory in cell biology has closely followed this philosophy, although it took some searching to find this path.
Asking questions is an essential component of the practice of science, but question-asking skills are often underemphasized in science education. In this study, we examined questions written by students as they prepared for laboratory exercises in a senior-level cell biology class. Our goals were to discover 1) what types of questions students asked about laboratory activities, 2) whether the types or quality of questions changed over time, and 3) whether the quality of questions or degree of improvement was related to academic performance. We found a majority of questions were about laboratory outcomes or seeking additional descriptive information about organisms or processes to be studied. Few questions earned the highest possible ranking, which required demonstration of extended thought, integration of information, and/or hypotheses and future experiments, although a majority of students asked such a question at least once. We found no correlation between types of student questions or improvement in questions and final grades. Only a small improvement in overall question quality was seen despite considerable practice at writing questions about science. Our results suggest that improving students' ability to generate higher-order questions may require specific pedagogical intervention.
Historically, cell biologists studied organisms that represented a reasonable sampling of life's diversity, whereas recently research has narrowed into a few model systems. As a result, the cells of plants have been relatively neglected. Here I choose three examples to illustrate how plants have been informative and could be even more so. Owing to their ease of imaging and genetic tractability, multicellular plant model systems provide a unique opportunity to address long-standing questions in cell biology.