Neurotransmitters Module: The Beery Twins’ Story©
A Project-Based Learning Activity
Captivate your students and cover a wide range of science topics with the true story of California twins Noah and Alexis Beery, who have gene variants that cause them to have life-threatening low levels of three neurotransmitters. Whole genome sequencing in 2010 identified a mutation in the gene that encodes the sepiapterin reductase (SPR) enzyme, leading to a molecular diagnosis and successful treatment.
Human Sepiapterin Reductase mRNA Gene Map©
A 3DMD BioInformatics Activity©
This gene map presents the nucleotide sequence of the messenger RNA encoding sepiapterin reductase - the enzyme that was shown to be defective in Noah and Alexis Beery. The map documents the molecular consequence of two different mutations in this gene that were responsible for the neurotransmitter deficiencies experienced by the Beery twins. Student maps can be used by individuals or small groups and are available in sets of 1, 3 or 6. One teacher's map comes with every set. The teacher’s map features highlighted reading frames and mutation sites. All maps are laminated.
Sepiapterin Reductase Mini Model
Show your students a physical representation of the twins' genetic mutations and neurotransmitter deficiencies. Three small, magnet-docked sections of our Sepiapterin Reductase Mini Model are removable, revealing the two mutations that the twins inherited from their parents and the cofactor needed for the production of the neurotransmitters.
Dopamine and Serotonin Biosynthesis Models
These models show how two amino acids (tyrosine and tryptophan) are converted into two neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) by two consecutive enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Magnet-docked hydroxyl groups, carboxylate groups and hydrogens allow each model to be quickly converted from amino acid to neurotransmitter in two easy steps. These structures were determined with the National Institute of Health databank.
Models are made of plaster by 3-D printing and should be handled with care. They will break if dropped, held tightly or handled roughly.