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Georgia Journal of Science

Abstract

Although bioinformatics, the use of computational science to study biology, has become imperative in many areas of the biological sciences and related career paths, introductory biochemistry courses may disregard practical knowledge on bioinformatics. For this reason, we merged a hands-on activity module into an undergraduate biochemistry course in two ways. First, we incorporated bioinformatics modules for building phylogenetic trees by aligning the active sites of 10 chosen related α-amylase enzymes using freely available data. Secondly, we chose three of those 10 α-amylase enzymes to compare the 3D structure of their active sites. This module gives the students an opportunity to understand how to access biological information from public databases such as GenBank, and analyze the information using software like MEGA, ClustalW, and RasMol. Overall, our module should provide instructors with ideas on how to develop similar modules and encourage students to develop further independence in the use of bioinformatics tools.

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