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Waking up Anna

Author(s): Kate K. O'Toole1, Shuchismita Dutta2

1. Emory University 2. RCSB Protein Data Bank, Rutgers University

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This case focuses on understanding the molecular basis of Anna's sleeping disorder and its treatment.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 11 Jun 2020 doi:10.25334/Y88F-9279 - cite this


Waking up Anna

Overview: This case discusses Anna's sleeping disorder, a condition that was disrupting her normal life. The case begins by watching a video where Anna and her doctors describe her story. When most of the standard treatment approaches for treating her condition had failed, researchers examined her cerebrospinal fluid and found a substance in it that was acting like a sleeping pill! Understanding the molecular basis for where and how this substance was acting helped doctors develop a treatment for Anna. The case explores the structure function relationships of receptor molecules in the brain targeted by the treatment. It also examines how the binding of other small molecule drugs can impact the function of this receptor target.

Learning Objectives: The case was developed at the interface of biologyy and chemistry for introductory biology courses for undergraduate students to become familiar with scientific literature, learn to use data from various bioinformatics resources, and have a chance to explore chemical interactions that stabilize the structure and/or enable the functions of complex biological molecules. Depending on the details included in the discussions, it may also be used to teach slightly advanced physiology, cell biology, and neuroscience students. By the end of the case, students should develop some basic understanding of biomolecular structure-function relationships.

Molecules explored: The primary molecule explored in this case is the GABA-A receptor, that forms part of an ion channel. Different forms of the receptor, either alone or in complex with various small molecular ligands and/or drugs are explored to understand structure-function relationships in regulating opening and closure of the ion channels.

Implementation: The case can be implemented using either a flipped approach and/or through in-class discussions.

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