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BIO404: Cancer Biology

Unit 2: Gene Expression and Regulation   To understand how cancer is disruptive, you must first understand the systems it disrupts.  This unit will cover the primary means through which DNA and gene expression are regulated within the cell, focusing on the pathways and genes which, when mutated, can lead to unchecked cell growth.  This unit will be concerned with the genes that are normally involved in cell growth and division (called proto-oncogenes).  When these genes are “activated” in one of several ways, they no longer cause cells to divide normally but instead trigger unchecked cell division and proliferation; when this occurs, these genes are referred to as “oncogenes.”

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit will take approximately 14 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 3.5 hours

          ☐    Subunit 2.1.1: 2.25 hours

          ☐    Subunit 2.1.2: 1.25 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2: 10.5 hours

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.1: 3 hours

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.2: 0.5 hour

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.3: 0.5 hour

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.4: 1.25 hour

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.5: 2.25 hours

          ☐    Subunit 2.2.6: 3 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to: - Describe the DNA structure and how it is changed in cancer. - List the steps in the transcription and translation processes, identifying the important factors for each step, including transcription factors. - Explain how alkylating agents, intercalating agents, and radiation can lead to various types of mutations in DNA and the mechanisms that repair these. - Trace the steps of signal transduction and the amplification of the first messenger ligand signal to second messenger production, kinase/phosphatase activation, and overall effect. - Outline the role of proto-oncogenes and their conversion to oncogenes and in the development of cancer.

2.1 DNA Structure and Stability   2.1.1 Structure   - Web Media: The University of Utah: Genetic Science and Learning Center’s “Tour of the Basics” Link: The University of Utah: Genetic Science and Learning Center’s “Tour of the Basics” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: The University of Utah presents this excellent tour of DNA. Click on “What Is DNA?” to start the presentation. Click next to continue through the animation. Also, view the following presentations: “What Is a Gene?” “What Is a Chromosome?” “What Is a Protein?” “What Is Heredity?” and “What Is a Trait?” These will provide you with great information about DNA, its structure, how it provides the recipe for proteins, and its importance for traits and disease risk.
 
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  • Reading: National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” Link:  National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” (HTML, PDF, or PPT)

    Instructions:  You may be wondering how DNA relates to the development of cancer.  The National Cancer Institute does a good job of explaining this relationship.  Review slides 39, 40, and 41.  This slide presentation is available for downloading as a PDF or a PowerPoint with notes, using the options on the left of the screen.    
     
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2.1.2 Maintenance and Repair   - Reading: Eastern Michigan University: Dr. Bob Winning’s “Mutation, DNA Repair, and Recombination” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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  • Reading: National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” Link: National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” (HTML, PDF or PPT)

    Instructions:  View slide 48.  This will allow you to make the connection between DNA repair and cancer.  This slide mentions that this is the third gene type.  We will talk about the other two types, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, a bit later.  This slide presentation is available for downloading as a PDF or a PowerPoint with notes, using the options on the left of the screen.
     
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2.2 Gene Expression and Regulation   2.2.1 Transcription and Translation   - Web Media: University of Nebraska: Patty Hain and Nathan Wambaugh’s “Transcription/Translation Overview” Link: University of Nebraska: Patty Hain and Nathan Wambaugh’s “Transcription/Translation Overview” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: This animation will introduce you to transcription and translation. Click the arrows at the bottom right to move the animation forward.
 
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  • Reading: Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis: Department of Biology’s “The Central Dogma: From DNA to Proteins” Link:  Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis: Department of Biology’s “The Central Dogma: From DNA to Proteins” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  This reading will give you a good background on the transcription and translation processes.
     
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  • Activity: University of Utah: Genetic Science and Learning Center’s “Transcribe and Translate a Gene” Link: University of Utah: Genetic Science and Learning Center’s “Transcribe and Translate a Gene” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions:  Now that you have viewed the Indiana University-Purdue University animation and completed the reading on transcription and translation, try your hand at these processes.  Select the “Click Here to Begin!” blue button, and then follow the directions to work your way through the transcription and translation process.
     
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2.2.2 Signal Transduction Pathways   - Web Media: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Charlotte Pratt and Kathleen Cornely’s Essential Biochemistry: “Signal Transduction” Link: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Charlotte Pratt and Kathleen Cornely’s Essential Biochemistry:Signal Transduction” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  Work your way through the seven modules in this signal transduction unit.  Your knowledge will be tested as you move forward in these modules.  Notice how the first messenger (ligand) binds activating the second messenger (cAMP for example) activating other factors (such as kinases) amplifying the signal of the single ligand.
 
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2.2.3 Transcription Factors   - Web Media: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Gene Function” Link:  Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Gene Formation” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  Transcription factors are involved in numerous parts of the transcription process converting DNA into pre-mRNA and following splicing mRNA.  Review the steps of transcription, including the animation, taking special note of the role of transcription factors.  Click the next arrow to go to the transcription factors page that lists common transcription factors involved in cancer.  Review the estrogen receptor animation.
 
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2.2.4 Growth Factors   - Reading: The Medical Biochemistry Page: Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Michael W. King’s “Growth Factors” Link:  The Medical Biochemistry Page: Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Michael W. King’s “Growth Factors” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  This reading discusses growth factors, giving numerous examples.  By understanding the role of growth factors now, you will better understand their involvement in cancer and cancer processes later in this course.  Focus on the big picture in this reading.  The main purpose of most growth factors is to stimulate growth of cells—typically resulting in cell division.
 
 
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2.2.5 Proto-oncogenes   - Web Media: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Introduction to Cancer Genes Oncogenes” Link: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Introduction to Cancer Genes Oncogenes” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Read the Cancer Genes Overview, and then click on the Oncogenes tab to the left.  There are eleven pages to the module, including some interactive videos.  Be sure to view these.  Click next to move on to subsequent pages. 
 
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  • Reading: National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” Link:  National Cancer Institute’s “Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer” (HTML)

    Instructions:  View slide 42, 43, and 44.  This will introduce oncogenes and make the connection between proto-oncogenes and oncogenes.  This slide presentation is available for downloading as a PDF or a PowerPoint with notes, using the options on the left of the screen.
     
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2.2.6 Oncogene Activation   - Reading: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Mutation” Link:  Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Mutation” (HTML and Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  This is a great series that explains how mutations damage DNA, leading to cancer.  Start with Introduction to Mutation and work your way through each section, finishing with the mutation summary.
 
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  • Activity: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Mutation” Link:  Emory University’s Cancer Quest: “Mutation- Know the Flow and Crossword” (HTML and Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions:  Test your knowledge of this material by completing the Know the Flow and Crossword exercises.
     
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  • Reading: University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine: Dr. Richard C. Hunt’s “Oncogenic Viruses” Link:  University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine: Dr. Richard C. Hunt’s “Oncogenic Viruses” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Although this chapter is quite long, the impact that viruses have on the development of cancer cannot be emphasized enough.  This reading does a great job of thoroughly covering all of the major viruses that are known to cause cancer.
     
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