Below are several questions that I've used in the past on the cumulative portion of final exams. On any one exam, I've asked 4 or 5 of these types of questions and made each one worth 5-10 points. These should give you an idea of the format and level of detail that I'll be asking on your upcoming final.
1. Our point in history has been called the "Genetic Revolution". Explain 5 examples of genetic biotechnology that have the potential to change the everyday lives and/or health of people today. You do not need to describe the detailed techniques of each technology, but give me enough of a description that I can tell that you understand exactly what each technique involves.
2. Diagram the production of an egg cell that would produce a child with Down Syndrome (trisomy 21) through non-disjunction in meiosis I. Start with the pre-meiotic cell drawn below in which maternal and paternal copies of chromosome 21 are drawn differently. Why does having an extra copy of this chromosome have such a large impact on the health of the individual?
3. How and why does DNA replication occur. Explain its role in the cell cycle.
4. Cancer is a disease of the genes. Explain in some detail the categories of genes that are involved and what is the normal function of each type (use examples where possible). How are hereditary cancers explained? How are non-hereditary cancers explained?
Read the following excerpt from a recent newspaper article and answer the questions that follow:
Gene Therapy May Hold Back Alzheimer's
By LAURAN NEERGAARD
AP Medical Writer, April 25, 2005, 10:19 PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- The first attempt at gene therapy for Alzheimer's patients appeared to significantly delay worsening of the disease in a few people who have tested it so far, scientists reported Sunday.
..........Tuszynski and colleagues took skin cells from eight patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's and [added] the gene to secrete a protein found in healthy brains called nerve growth factor, or NGF.
Earlier studies had shown that injecting NGF-producing tissue into the brains of aging monkeys could reverse deterioration. Simply injecting NGF into people would not work. If it goes into the wrong part of the brain, it can cause serious side effects.
So, doctors drilled holes into the patients' skulls and implanted the NGF-producing skin cells directly onto Alzheimer's-injured spots.
5. Based on what we discussed in our biotechnology section, what was the most likely method for getting the NGF gene delivered to the correct place in the skin cells?
6. Is it likely that the researchers included a promoter along with the NGF gene? Explain.
7. Starting with the NGF gene in the modified skin cells, explain the steps in producing NGF protein (including where each step happens within the cell).
8. The terms dominant and recessive are good terms for describing traits at the phenotypic level, but they do not necessarily explain what happens with the dominant allele or the recessive allele at the molecular level. Choose a gene for which you know the difference in the alleles at the DNA level. Explain the expression (trancription and translation) of each of the alleles, and explain how the expression patterns result in a pattern of dominance and recessiveness at the phenotypic level.
9. Explain what a gene is.
10. When in the life of a cell does DNA replication occur? If there is an error in DNA replication that causes a problem with the DNA, what should happen in the cell? Explain.
11. Explain the eukaryotic chromosome. Include in your answer what the chromosome is made of, what the parts of a linear chromosome are, and where in a cell it can be found. As a cell moves through the cell cycle, how does a chromosome change?
12. Why did we discuss protein production in our genetics class? What are the two basic steps to building a protein from genetic instructions? Name each process and give a one-sentence explanation of the process including where the process occurs.
13. Human liver cells and human brain cells carry the same set of genetic instructions, yet the cells look and act very differently. Explain what you know about how these differences occur at the genetic level. How do these differences relate to problems that researchers face in their attempts to use adult cells in reproductive or therapeutic cloning experiments?