Charles Abrams (Truman College, USA)
Paper ribbon models of biological macromolecules are easy to construct in one laboratory period, and allow hands-on activities that are impossible with traditional model kits. The molecular structure is printed on standard weight paper, along with lines to guide folding, and pairs of numbers to align hydrogen bonds, which are secured with transparent tape. The resulting model accurately represents the backbone atomic positions of the alpha helix and beta sheet. Non-repetitive structures can also be built accurately. The resulting paper models are the physical equivalent of a cartoon representation of a protein. Tertiary interactions can be added, and a variety of super-secondary structural motifs can be created. These models are extremely inexpensive, easy to construct, and add a type of learning experience to the study of biological molecules that is not possible with computer models. An easy-to-build model of the Rossmann Fold (beta-alpha-beta) will be presented, along with student self-assessment of their learning with the activity.