DNA and RNA encode information in the sequences of their nucleotide building blocks just as languages encode information in sequences of letters, words, and sentences. The advent of DNA sequencing technology in 1970 enabled us to decipher the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Today, DNA sequences can be obtained from scientific journals, databases, and web sites—frequently free of charge.
Bioinformatics uses information technology, such as computers and computer programs, to study the information in DNA and proteins. In this activity, you will use these tools to understand the true cause of sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder of the hemoglobin beta gene. Starting with a patient who has sickle cell anemia, you will use bioinformatics tools to follow the path of the central dogma of molecular biology from DNA to RNA to protein and understand the cause of this debilitating genetic disorder.
In this in silico (on the computer) laboratory you will:
• Use databases to follow the flow of information from DNA to RNA to proteins
• Use computational tools to conduct bioinformatics analyses
• Study 3D structures of proteins to determine the molecular basis of sickle cell anemia