Grade Level

High School




Melissa Kelly, Steph Guerra, Transcription Factors and Gene Expression

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, students will investigate gene expression through comparison of transcription factors. They will explore gene regulation and the use of a topical cream to amplify melanin production as a means to protect against skin cancer. Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • to explain environmental and drug impacts on gene regulation and expression;
  • to explain the role of master transcription factors; and
  • to defend the use of a drug, citing relevant evidence.




Science and Engineering Practices:

SP1, SP6, SP8

MA Science and Technology/Engineering (2016):

NGSS (2013):

Common Core Math/Language Arts Standards:



central dogma, enzyme, melanin, model organism, protein, protein synthesis, skin cancer, tanning, transcription, transcription factor, translation

Educator SoundBites

"[This lesson] allows for interesting conversations about many topics in bio. I like how these Bite provided an opportunity for teachers to go over scientific citations and then explore the scientists listed (in this case two women - YES!)"
David Upegui, Central Falls High School, Providence, RI

"This lesson provided a great real-world connection to protein synthesis, a challenging topic for students because it can be hard to perceive. As a class we discuss how it helps with gene expression, and explore examples of what happens when the process goes wrong, but the concept can still feel intangible to students. This lesson was a great example of how protein synthesis can affect students and animals in a scenario that is easily understood, and has great visuals and analogies to get the main points across!"
Melissa Regad, Toms River High School East, Toms River, NJ

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