Saturday, July 19, 2014

Painting with Fluorescent Proteins

The lecture was so much better today! It was certainly easier to understand Dr. Bhasin now that she has slowed down. Also, after Dr. Bhasin’s talk to us yesterday about asking questions anytime during class, everyone felt more comfortable asking her to clarify certain terms and processes.

We then had our discussion about our latest reading material—The Alternative Genome. We talked about how alternative splicing increases diversity, how alternative splicing evolved, the genetic modifications that come from splicing regulation, and more. We learned how corn has 40,000 genes, yet humans have less than 25,000. Some people had positive views on this—they believed it showed how developed we are as human beings. However, other people had more of a bleak outlook on this. They talked about how slightly degrading it is to have less genes than a plant.
Another picture of our lab

We discussed alternative splicing and its benefits, RNA therapy, introns, exons, and spliceosomes. I found the discussion interesting, as well as the discoveries scientists are making in alternative splicing that could improve our lives.

We then moved on to our lab protocol quiz, which was difficult (as the quizzes sadly usually are). Barely anyone knew the answers to any of the questions, despite having studied for a large amount of time. However, Danny went over the answers after the quiz, which helped us in the lab afterwards.

Our lab today involved transforming E. coli with rainbow fluorescent proteins. Because most of the lab steps required waiting while incubating our proteins, the class had time to watch funny science-related videos. Danny and Ciara (her name is spelled this way and I didn’t know until today!) showed us the video last session’s Biotech class made, a parody of “Single Ladies” (titled “Single Threads, Put a Base on It”). We watched a parody of “Let It Go” by a group of students going through their residency and videos made in the 80’s about PCR.
Maria and Alex, our benchmates

Danny and Ciara told us how we’d get extra credit if we all film a video like last session’s “Single Threads, Put a Base on It.” Our class all agreed that we’d do something like that (the words “extra credit” are good motivation). Though the tense atmosphere in our class has lessened, most of us still don’t know each other and this would be a great way to become friends (which is most likely the point of it).
Our lab station

The lab was really relaxed. People talked and laughed with each other over the music someone played on their phone. I’m glad I don’t find lab stressful anymore.

After transforming our proteins, we took LB/Amp plates (which acted as our canvases) and painted on them using purple, yellow, pink, and blue fluorescent proteins. I painted a jellyfish, but I’m not sure how they’ll come out after I accidentally punctured the agar.
An example of what our plates might look like

At the end of the lab, our class stayed to attend the exam review Danny and Ciara held. The candy (which they passed out if you answered a question), relaxed atmosphere, and easy to follow information made the extra two hours after class more than worthwhile. Though I was tired by the end of the day, that exam review gave me hope that I can do well on the exam. I feel insanely better prepared now.

The moment I’ve been waiting for this whole week—the weekend! Though I still have to study and do homework, I’m definitely going to take advantage of these two days to socialize, do laundry, and relax.

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