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Leaving For The Membrane

This parody (written by Greg Crowther) is sung to the tune of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" (written and performed by John Denver).


Context

In this song, a cell-surface protein summarizes his journey: synthesis at the rough ER, addition of sugar groups in the ER lumen, transfer to the Golgi, further modification of carbohydrate groups there, and ultimate export to the cell membrane.


Lyrics

Well, translation of mRNA
At ribosomes is underway,
And cotranslational transport happens now.
My signal peptide targets me
For binding by the SRP --
Into the ER is where I'm bound...

So decorate my residues --
Glycosylate with sugar groups --
Then pack me into vesicles to go...

I'm leaving for the membrane.
Don't think that I'll be back again --
The cell surface is my home.

Now vesicles from the ER wall
Will carry me through the cytosol
To the Golgi apparatus, cis through trans.
At the Golgi, enzymes wait inside
To tweak my oligosaccharides,
As with the ABO blood antigens...

So decorate my residues --
Glycosylate with sugar groups --
Then pack me into vesicles to go...

I'm leaving for the membrane.
Don't think that I'll be back again --
The cell surface is my home.

I'm leaving for the membrane.
Don't think that I'll be back again --
The cell surface is my home.


Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.


Study Questions

(1) What is the SRP mentioned in the first verse?

(2) In the context of this song, what are residues?

(3) What determines a person's blood type as A, B, AB, or O?

(4) Cells have many (external and internal) membranes. To which one does the title seem to refer?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)