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A variety of genetic techniques have been devised to determine cell lineage relationships during tissue development. Some of these systems monitor cell lineages spatially and/or temporally without regard to gene expression by the cells, whereas others correlate gene expression with the lineage under study. The GAL4 Technique for Real-time and Clonal Expression (G-TRACE) system allows for rapid, fluorescent protein-based visualization of both current and past GAL4 expression patterns and is therefore amenable to genome-wide expression-based lineage screens. Here we describe the results from such a screen, performed by undergraduate students of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Undergraduate Research Consortium for Functional Genomics (URCFG) and high school summer scholars as part of a discovery-based education program. The results of the screen, which reveal novel expression-based lineage patterns within the brain, the imaginal disc epithelia, and the hematopoietic lymph gland, have been compiled into the G-TRACE Expression Database (GED), an online resource for use by the Drosophila research community. The impact of this discovery-based research experience on student learning gains was assessed independently and shown to be greater than that of similar programs conducted elsewhere. Furthermore, students participating in the URCFG showed considerably higher STEM retention rates than UCLA STEM students that did not participate in the URCFG, as well as STEM students nationwide.

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Olson JM, et al. Expression-Based Cell Lineage Analysis in Drosophila Through a Course-Based Research Experience for Early Undergraduates. G3 (Bethesda). 2019 Nov 5;9(11):3791-3800.

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