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Peer Review

Insulin: structure of a protein hormone



Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.7 stars
Effectiveness: 4.6 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: May 25, 2004 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This Chime animation provides an excellent model for insulin, a 51-amino acid
hormonal protein that regulates blood glucose levels. It enables one to view
the structural aspects of the molecule using all of the standard CHIME model
views, and addtionally has 'pop-up' informational windows about insulin's
primary structure, backbone structure, a key to amino acid abbreviations and
characteristics. The tutorial also provides information on disulfide bonds,
alpha helices, and has an excellent PDF worksheet to use for assessing one's
knowledge of the tutorial, but which requires information from outside sources.
Type of Material: tutorial
Recommended Uses: Lecture display of salient features of insulin, or as a stand-alone module for
students to use to gain a better understanding of protein structure and the
manner in which structure is determined by the primary amino acid sequence. Could also use as a homework assignment.
Technical Requirements: html, chime. Says Netscape Navigator required - but plays fine in IE6.0, even though the directions say otherwise.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Understanding primary, secondary, and tertiary structure in polypeptides and the interplay between them with respect to the small peptide hormone, insulin. The animation enables one to view the various domains of the molecule, and understand the reasons it assumes its characteristic shape.
Target Student Population: High School or College
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic protein structure and biochemistry.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.7 stars

  • Very well done tutorial on the basic structure of insulin.
  • Well documented, with good alternative views of the molecule and its essential structural features.
  • This animation provides is an excellent model of insulin, the hormonal protein that regulates blood glucose levels. The Chime visualization program allows the molecule to be rotated and viewed in many different structural views.
  • The animaation also has several 'pop-up' informational windows about that provide information about insulin's primary structyre, backbone structure, a key to amino acid abbreviations and characteristics of the various amino acids.
  • The tutorial also has hyperlinkks that provide information on disulfide
    bonds, alpha helices.
  • There is also a PDF worksheet to use for assessing one's knowledge of the tutorial--this worksheet requires additional reading resources, however.

  • Last revised in 1999, could use an updating.
  • A little information on the function and action, or at least links to that material, would be a useful addition, and possibly help explain the interactions of this hormone with its receptor.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.6 stars

  • Well designed, and accompanying text walks students through basic concepts clearly and with excellent 3D images to illustrate concepts.
  • Contains pop-up windows with 2D images of peptide bonds, disulfides, etc. providing a traditional text-book view of the 3D images.
  • Attached worksheet is useful for students to apply their knowledge in a test-like format. It would also be easy to create your own assignments linked to this site.
  • Very useful for teaching in a lecture situation, or for students to explore the structural characteristics independently.

  • none

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars

  • Easy to navigate and logically designed.
  • Menu options keep the page uncluttered and allow students to quickly find the materials they need.
  • As with most CHIME models, very intuitive to use. Also, this page has a very clean layout, and all material is easily located.

  • Last revised in 1999. Could be updated to be more compatible with current internet browsers and the latest versions of Chime.
  • This should REALLY be updated, as these versions are not even in use any more, and the animation plays perfectly within either Netscape or IE with Chime
  • A pop-up appears when you first enter the site saying that it will not work with Internet Explorer. I did not find this to be the case.
  • Says cannot play in Netscape, but with 4.7 Netscape says need Navigator 3.04 or higher.
  • From the site: Our recommendation is to use Netscape 4 with Windows 95, and Netscape 3.04 with Macintosh andWindows 3.1. Microsoft Internet Explorer is not compatible with Chime 1.0. Versions of Netscape Navigator older than 3.01 are also incompatible.
  • Chime link goes to -- not functional

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States