Cover Page

Cover Page for Introduction to BLAST using Human Leptin

Submission Details

Submitter: Douglas L. Chalker (
Submission timestamp: 2019/08/01 6:22:07 PM EST
  • Justin R. DiAngelo, Penn State Berks
  • Alexis Nagengast, Widener University
  • Wilson Leung, Washington University in St. Louis
Corresponding author: Wilson Leung (

Lesson Overview

Lesson abstract: Introduction to the use of the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) to identify related sequences and compare similarity between them. This exercise used the example of the human leptin gene. It begins with recovering a desired sequence then demonstrates the use of BLAST to find related sequences.
Lesson keywords:
  • Bioinformatics
  • Database
  • Protein sequence
Organism(s) that are the focus of this lesson: Human
Type(s) of student learning assessments: Short answer
Websites and online databases used: NCBI BLAST (all BLAST and GenBank pages), Other NCBI sites

Learning Topics

Topics in scientific fields:
  • Bioinformatics
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
Topics in mathematics or statistics: Probability
Topics in bioinformatics or data science:
  • Similarity searches (BLAST, Multiple Sequence Alignment)
  • Phylogenetic analysis

Student Prerequisites

Recommended prior course work: High school level biology
Recommended computer skills: Basic: Familiarity with web browsers, word processing

Instructor Prerequisites

Recommended computer skills: Basic: Familiarity with web browsers, word processing
Instructional requirements: Basic Computer Lab (Access to laptops/desktops, no large memory or CPU requirements)

Implementation Recommendations

Instructional time required: 1 class period or less
Students work as individuals or teams? Either individual or team work is possible
Number of students in a class: 10-25 students (assume no TAs and one computer for each student)


Available languages: English
Additional materials for students with disabilities: None