Neurotransmitters Module: The Beery Twins’ Story©

A Project-Based Learning Activity
 

California twins Noah and Alexis Beery 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 enzyme, leading to a molecular diagnosis and successful treatment.

The Human Sepiapterin Reductase mRNA 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.

The Dopamine and Serotonin Biosynthesis Models show how the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan are converted into the 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.

Human SPR mRNA Gene Map Teacher Notes

The activity guide for the Human Sepiapterin Reductase mRNA Gene Map© will help you consider different ways you may use these materials. We encourage you to modify these lessons and activities to meet the learning objectives and needs of your specific students.

Dopamine and Serotonin Biosynthesis Placemats

Use these placemats with the Dopamine and Serotonin Biosynthesis Models to guide your students through the conversion of the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan into the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

Human SPR mRNA Gene Map Student Handout 1 and Key

What does the Beery family's pedigree reveal about their medical history?

Neurotransmitters Module Additional Resources

A list of some excellent resources to help you make the most of the Neurotransmitters Module's lessons and activities.

Human SPR mRNA Gene Map Student Handout 2 and Key

Have your students work through this handout and the gene map together, to answer questions about genome sequencing, the sepiapterin reductase enzyme, mutations and amino acids, and genetics.

Neurotransmitters Module Next Generation Science Standards

Human SPR mRNA Gene Map Connections to: A Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

Human SPR Placemat

This placemat provides a concise scientific account of the Beery twins' story and molecular diagnosis through whole genome sequencing.