First online meeting 27.01.-29.01.2021

Report about first online Meeting 27.01. – 29.01.2021

Caused by SARS-Cov-2 the dated physical meeting in Vicenza from 26.01. – 30.01.2021 was again not possible. But we kept the date and changed mode to a virtual meeting which took place from 27.01. – 29.01.2021. Meeting was hosted by partner school from Vicenza.

With more than ninety participants we worked out a teaching module about the new research topic in genetic called epigenetic which is coming up in the curricula of high schools all over Europe. This teaching module is focused on epigenetic regulation of gene activity by methylation and demethylation. Scientists figured out that modifications of DNA e.g. methylation of CpG-islands could mute genes, demethylation activates genes. If tumor suppressor genes are muted cancer could occur. First drugs to cure cancer on epigenetic level to treat leukaemia are on the market.   

In an international team of student mentors from Pforzheim and Vienna together with their teachers we prepared in advance presentations for background information and presented it to the audit during the meeting. Background information about the following topics were held by the mentors:

– Discovery of DNA structure,

– Spacial compression of DNA in the nucleus

– How genes are working,

– How restriction enzymes are working,

– Separation of DNA fragments by gel-electrophoresis,

– Epigenetic regulation of gene activity by methylation and demethylation,

– Animation about CpG methylation,

– Modern drugs in cancer treatment on the epigenetic level.

In science lessons hands on teaching is an imperative. As a conclusion we developed for the teaching module an experiment on epigenetic gene regulation by methylation.

1. Step of experiment: Unmethylated DNA of a phage is methylated by CpG methylase.

2. Step: Unmethylated DNA of the phage as a control and methylated DNA out of the 1. step are treated with restriction enzyme ClaI. This enzyme is sensitive to CpG methylation which means methylated DNA couldn’t be cleaved.

3. Step: Separation of restriction fragments by gel-electrophoresis

As results of the meeting we prepared a teacher and student protocol in the working language of English we want to evaluate in a future lab workshop which will takes place if SARS-Cov-2 allows us to work in a lab again. Protocols were translated by national teams into their respective mother tongues. Protocols in English and translations were uploaded as project results to the homepage of the project, available to download for all people interested in this topic.

Cultural aspects were integrated as well with presentations via a self made video produced by students from Brno. They introduced us their hometown, their high school and the founder of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, who lived and explored his famous rules in the monastery of Brno. Other students from Vicenza presented their hometown, their school and its surroundings in a video.

The meeting in details : At Wednesday, 27.1.2021 we started with a student presentation about Vicenza, followed by student presentation about Brno. The topic Gregor Mendel gave us the introduction to talk about genetics first and to compare it with the regulation of genes by epigenetics. Mentors held first presentations and the idea for the methylation experiment was first discussed.

At Thursday, 28.1.2021 students continued with their presentations and the experiment protocols in the working language of English were prepared. As homework translations of protocols should be done by national teams till next day.

At Friday 29.1.2021 background information and translations were collected and uploaded on the website. A detailed view on the experiment was done with the goal that everybody is best prepared for a following lab workshop to evaluate the teaching unit.