RNAi is an excellent way to examine the process of the central dogma. In this lab, we will look at the microscopic nematode, C. elegans.
These worms eat bacteria, and we will feed them bacteria that have been transformed with a plasmid expressing double-stranded RNA. This molecule degrades the production of a muscle protein (called twitchin) in the worms. Over 2-3 days, this degradation of twitchin will cause the worm to lose muscle function, which will impair its movement. This phenotype is called “uncoordinated.” This lab allows the students to make a visual connection between RNA, protein, and phenotype.
Due to the nature of maintaining C. elegans in a classroom, this lab is not available as a kit. However, instructions for creating your own RNAi lab are linked below, along with all the necessary information to perform this lab in your classroom.