ß-Globin Folding Kit© Teacher Resources

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ß-globin becomes real in your students’ hands as they fold mini toober fragments into a 3-D protein model of ß-globin. Your students will discuss oxygen transport as they attach O2 to the iron in the heme group and then explore how a single mutation causes sickle cell anemia.

This advanced protein-folding kit reinforces lessons introduced in 3DMD’s Amino Acid Starter Kit©, and then allows your students to explore structure and function.

Small teams first focus on the structure of ß-globin by:

  • Using folding maps to mark selected amino acids (primary structure) and alpha helices (secondary structure)
  • Folding the protein into its 3-D tertiary structure, adding connectors for stability
  • Assembling the 3 fragments together to form the ß-globin protein
  • Adding the heme group with an iron atom and O2

Key amino acids include:

  • Histidines involved in coordinating the heme group
  • 3 salt bridges formed on the surface of the protein
  • Hydrophobic amino acids on the interior of the protein
  • Glutamic acid 6, the amino acid that changes to valine in sickle cell anemia

After exploring oxygen transport, your students can remove the glutamic acid at position 6 on the ß-globin model and replace it with valine. The single-point mutation from a negatively charged amino acid to a hydrophobic one causes red blood cells to clump together and assume the sickle cell shape.

See also the Map of the Human ß-Globin Gene©. In this bioinformatics activity, students work with the entire sequence of the gene and discover exons encode the sequence for the protein, while introns are spliced out.

ß-Globin Folding Kit© Description, Set-Up and Contents

Learn what's included in your ß-Globin Folding Kit© and how to prepare it for classroom use.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Teacher Notes

Teacher Notes provides a brief overview of the kit’s activities. It also highlights concepts related to protein structure and function.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Student Overview

Each cell in your body needs oxygen for energy and growth. Without it your cells would die. When you take a deep breath, oxygen-rich air sweeps into your lungs where it diffuses into your blood. Through a specialized process, proteins in your blood deliver oxygen to your cells.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Blue Segment Student Handout

The β-globin 3D protein model is divided into 3 segments to facilitate folding by 3 small groups. Each is coded a different color — blue, green or red — to make it easier to fold and assemble. This student handout is for the blue segment.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Green Segment Student Handout

The β-globin 3D protein model is divided into 3 segments to facilitate folding by 3 small groups. Each is coded a different color — blue, green or red — to make it easier to fold and assemble. This set of directions is for the green segment.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Red Segment Student Handout

The β-globin 3D protein model is divided into 3 segments to facilitate folding by 3 small groups. Each is coded a different color — blue, green or red — to make it easier to fold and assemble. This set of directions is for the red segment.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Jmol Tutorials

Open computer Jmol images of the whole ß-Globin protein model, or segments of the ß-Globin protein model.

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Molecule of the Month on Hemoglobin

The Molecule of the Month by scientist, author and artist Dr. David Goodsell includes an introduction to the structure and function of the chosen molecule and a discussion of its relevance to human health and welfare. Molecule of the Month articles are frequently referred to by teachers, students and researchers.

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β-Globin Folding Kit© Next Generation Science Standards

Connections to: A Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

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