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Modeling Influenza Antigenic Shift and Drift with LEGO Bricks

    Author: Boriana Marintcheva1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA 02325
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 04 May 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: 131 Summer Street, Department of Biological Sciences, Science Building – Room 309, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA 02325. Phone: 508-531-1729. Fax: 508-531-1745. E-mail: Boriana.Marintcheva@bridgew.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2016 vol. 17 no. 2 300-301. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1096
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    Abstract:

    The concepts of antigenic shift and drift could be found in almost every microbiology and virology syllabus, usually taught in the context of Influenza virus biology. They are central to understanding viral diversity and evolution and have direct application to anti-flu vaccine design and effectiveness. To aid student understanding of the concepts, I have developed an exercise to visualize the mechanistic aspects of antigenic shift and drift using LEGO bricks. This hands-on/minds-on exercise asks students to replicate viruses taking into account the error-prone nature of Influenza RNA polymerase and to package model virions from a host cell infected with two different Influenza strains, while keeping track of the level of diversity of newly propagated viral particles. The exercise can be executed in any type of classroom for about 10 minutes and if desired, extended to emphasize quantitative skills, molecular biology concepts, or to trigger discussion of key issues in vaccine design.

Key Concept Ranking

Influenza A virus
0.6587257
RNA Polymerase
0.6
0.6587257

References & Citations

1. Armitage H2015Is a universal flu vaccine on the horizon?Science News[Online.] http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/08/universal-flu-vaccine-horizon
2. Hannoun C2013The evolving history of influenza viruses and influenza vaccinesExpert Rev Vaccines12910851094[Online.] www.medscape.com/viewarticle/81262110.1586/14760584.2013.824709 http://dx.doi.org/10.1586/14760584.2013.824709
3. Van den Hoecke S, Verhelst J, Vuylsteke M, Saelens X2015Analysis of genetic diversity of influenza A viruses using next-generation DNA sequencingBMC Genomics1679[Online.] www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/16/7910.1186/s12864-015-1284-z http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-1284-z
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1096
2016-05-04
2017-09-20

Abstract:

The concepts of antigenic shift and drift could be found in almost every microbiology and virology syllabus, usually taught in the context of Influenza virus biology. They are central to understanding viral diversity and evolution and have direct application to anti-flu vaccine design and effectiveness. To aid student understanding of the concepts, I have developed an exercise to visualize the mechanistic aspects of antigenic shift and drift using LEGO bricks. This hands-on/minds-on exercise asks students to replicate viruses taking into account the error-prone nature of Influenza RNA polymerase and to package model virions from a host cell infected with two different Influenza strains, while keeping track of the level of diversity of newly propagated viral particles. The exercise can be executed in any type of classroom for about 10 minutes and if desired, extended to emphasize quantitative skills, molecular biology concepts, or to trigger discussion of key issues in vaccine design.

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