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Ghost in Your Genes

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. Epigenetic effects employ the chemical mechanisms involved with DNA. As a class, review the following definitions: DNA, chromosome, and genome (see Key Terms). Use a model of DNA to have students identify the two strands that make up DNA, the sugar-phosphate backbone, the individual nucleotide bases, and the nucleotide base pairs.

  2. Review the concept of gene expression with students. What is it? (Gene expression is the ability of a gene to produce a biologically active protein.) To help students understand this process, use the graphic to guide them through the process of transcription and translation. Once you have reviewed the process with students, have them work in pairs to transcribe and translate a gene online at: learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/basics/transcribe


After Watching

  1. Discuss the concept of epigenetics. What is it? (Epigenetics is the study of the modifications to genes, such as by methylation, which do not involve changing the underlying DNA.) How does normal gene expression differ from epigenetic effects on the genome?

  2. The program raises some social and ethical implications regarding epigenetic effects. While scientists still don't know exactly what affects the epigenome or how it may be passed down to future generations, if lifestyle choices or environmental effects are passed down, what would students consider changing about their current lifestyle for any potential offspring they may have? How certain would they need to be that their epigenome was being affected before they made the change?

Teacher's Guide
Ghost in Your Genes
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