Developing a new interdisciplinary lab course for undergraduate and graduate students: Plant cells and proteins

Joseph M. Jez, Daniel P. Schachtman, R. Howard Berg, Christopher G. Taylor, Sixue Chen, Leslie M. Hicks, Jan G. Jaworski, Thomas J. Smith, Erik Nielsen, Craig S. Pikaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Studies of protein function increasingly use multifaceted approaches that span disciplines including recombinant DNA technology, cell biology, and analytical biochemistry. These studies rely on sophisticated equipment and methodologies including confocal fluorescence microscopy, mass spectrometry, and X-ray crystallography that are beyond the scope of traditional laboratory courses. To equip the advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students with an enabling base of knowledge and initial experience with advanced protein research methodologies, a laboratory course entitled Plant Cells and Proteins was developed in a partnership between Washington University and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. In this one semester course, 10-12 students obtain hands-on experience with plant tissue culture, gene transformation, subcellular localization of fluorescent recombinant proteins using confocal microscopy, purification of affinity-tagged recombinant proteins, isolation of total protein extracts, enzymatic assays, one- and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, MALDI-TOF and ESI-Q-TOF mass spectrometry, protein crystallization, and X-ray diffraction. The course is taught as a series of modules, each led by an expert researcher. Students are evaluated based on a series of graded written reports and tests of their mastery of key concepts, interpretations, and the limitations of the experimental methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-415
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Fundamental skills
  • Graduate
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Teaching laboratory
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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