Show some details of Viruses
Take a closer look at some resources for you to demonstrate some properties of viruses and experiments scientists use to study them
Give these a try...
Using models from the educational portal of the RCSB Protein Data Bank (PDB), we will explore virus symmetry through paper origami. Paper origami, the art of folding papers into specific shapes, sizes, and forms, is a great tool for visualizing and modeling the shapes of viruses.
Print & Assemble Viral Capsids
Print the PDFs from the Save & Share Menu and assemble following the included instructions.
You will also need:
- Cardstock (printer paper can work but is flimsy)
- Printer (color preferred)
- Tape or glue
How do scientists "see" viruses? Part 1: ELISA
ELISA works like a puzzle, where specific molecules lock together, a bit like puzzle pieces (though actually a bit more wiggly, like if puzzle pieces could shake hands or like this teacher with a unique handshake for each student). In this activity, cut out the puzzle pieces and assemble them just right to model the pieces of an ELISA.
Then, read more in the subsequent sections to learn more about the ELISA technique, antibodies, and more!
How do scientists "see" viruses? Part 2: qPCR
qPCR—quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction), sometimes also called real-time PCR—is a method for detecting nucleotide sequences (in this case, signatures of viral genomes) through a quick and often quantitative method.
We can simulate the detection of a virus by this method using many of the components scientists have used to design and implement tests for SARS-CoV2 since its discovery in December 2019. Viruses like SARS-CoV2 with genomes stored as RNA, the test has an added step for reverse-transcription of the RNA to DNA and these tests are then often referred to as RT-PCR. The entire process is summarized in the following infographic, which is also available for download in the Save & Share menu.
In the subsequent steps of the activity, we will 1) explore a key component of the specificity of PCR in general, 2) model the RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV2 in silico, and 3) model the added component that can make these tests quantitative and reasonably fast, making them a gold standard for virus identification in an infection.