How does SARS-CoV2 translation work?

2 Apr

The last couple of days I worked to prepare a lecture on how the coronavirus SARS-CoV2 uses several nifty genetics tricks to translate the proteins it needs to make new viral particles. I first wrote about this on twitter (here, here and here) and then made a slide deck. The slides are here: https://figshare.com/articles/Coronavirus_covid19_translation_genetics_slides_for_genetics_class/12065649

Why talk about SARS-CoV2 translation?

Do students need to learn about how proteins and stop codons in SARS-CoV2? I don’t think they really need to, but combining genetics (the topic of my class) with SARS-CoV2 (the topic that everyone is thinking about anyways) is – in my eyes – a good strategy.

I strongly believe that we should always make our classes as relevant to our students as possible. For genetics, this is actually quite easy. Many students have a very strong interest in genetics. This doesn’t mean that they all really want to know everything about Mendel or fruitfly crosses. Many of them really want to know about cancer, GMOs and why some kids looks exactly like their parents (or not). Let’s start with what the students want to know!

When I first taught genetics, I used a lot of material from Dr Rosie Redfield’s Useful Genetics class, and a lot of my ideas about teaching genetics are based on her work.

Thread 1: the first polyprotein and how SARS-CoV2 uses our ribosome to make 11 proteins

Screenshot 2020-04-02 08.28.22

Thread on threadreader: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1244118877803433984.html

Thread 2 how to ignore a stop sign

Screenshot 2020-04-02 08.33.39

Thread on threadreader:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1244471522477006848.html

Thread 3 jumping RNA dependent RNA polymerase

Screenshot 2020-04-02 08.34.03

Thread on threadreader: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1244849592132198400.html

One Response to “How does SARS-CoV2 translation work?”

  1. Laurie Issel-Tarver August 6, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing these slides – I’m using them as inspiration in my biology classes this Fall at Ohlone, a community college just a bit south of you. I’m very much enjoying the videos you’ve posted as well.

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