Every single cell in an organism has the genetic information (DNA) to code for every single protein in that organism. During development, cells migrate, become specialized and produce a different set of proteins, depending upon their function. This laboratory module will allow students to isolate and then separate protein from different organisms (cow, goat, chicken, etc.) and tissues from those different organisms (skeletal muscle, heart muscle, liver, etc.). Students will use protein SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis to accomplish this. This protein separation technique will create a ‘protein fingerprint’ which will help student determine which cells make the same or different proteins products.
Almost every cell in an organism contains the DNA to make every protein in that organism’s body. However, each cell type only makes the protein it needs to carry its function. For example, muscle cells produce more actin and myosin (proteins responsible for muscle contraction) than brain cells. The only cells that don’t have the complete genome are red blood cells (which have no nucleus) and eggs and sperm cells, which are haploid and have different DNA (which will recombine during meiosis). Once students run their gels, they will be able to observe different protein fingerprints for each cell type and each organism because each cell makes a different set of proteins based on its function. The same tissue in different organism may produce a different set of proteins based on its particular needs in the environment.