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mRNA Processing

No Longer a Headache

By Kristen H. Short

mRNA Processing



This clicker case study follows a dialogue between two college students, Lucy and Dan, as they discover how alternative splicing of mRNA molecules can allow a single gene to code for multiple proteins. Dan is participating in a clinical trial for a drug that may treat his migraines by inhibiting calcitonin gene-related peptide, and Lucy is working in a summer research lab that studies the protein calcitonin. They soon realize that the two proteins are both encoded by the same gene, and through their questioning and dialogue they come to understand the phenomenon of alternative splicing. They also learn about other steps of mRNA processing and about monoclonal antibodies. This case was designed to be taught in a flipped classroom, but could easily be adapted for a more traditional classroom setting if content covered in the pre-class videos is covered during the case study instead. It was designed for an introductory-level molecular biology course, but could be adapted for higher levels by including more information about the physiology and regulatory mechanisms involved.


Date Posted




  • Differentiate between a pre-mRNA and a mature mRNA in eukaryotes.
  • Explain the mechanism by which introns can be removed during mRNA processing.
  • Explain how alternative splicing can allow a single pre-mRNA (and thus a single gene) to give rise to several unique mature mRNAs.
  • Explain how monoclonal antibodies can be used to target molecules in the body, contributing to drug development.
  • Evaluate the significance of alternative splicing in molecular biology and physiology.


mRNA; RNA processing; alternative splicing; calcitonin; CGRP; exon; intron; central dogma; monoclonal antibody


Subject Headings

Biology (General)
Cell Biology
Genetics / Heredity
Molecular Biology


Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



PDF, PowerPoint









Clicker, Flipped



Asset 2