Personal Genetics: PCR Determination of PTC Tasters

Overview:  In this intermediate-level PCR lab, students will isolate their own cheek cell DNA and, using PCR, amplify the gene responsible for the ability to taste the chemical phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). Students will then determine their genotype at the TAS2R38 locus through restriction enzyme analysis and agarose gel electrophoresis. 

Curriculum Connections:  genetic variation, heredity, restriction enzyme analysis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis

Experiemental Timing: From start to finish this lab can take 4+ hours.  However, there are many good stopping points in this protocol that make it possible to complete the lab in a series of 45-50 minute periods.  For additional information, see "Instructor Planning Guide" in the Teacher Materials.

Specialized Equipment Required:  p20 micropipettes • water bath or incubator • centrifuge • thermocycler (each student will set up 2 PCR reactions) • gel electrophoresis unit with power supplies (each student will run 4 samples plus a ladder)