With the proper equipment, this hands-on activity is extremely easy to carry out. Students will visualize the structure of the HIV 1 protease using a macromolecule visualization program, Rasmac, on a Macintosh computer. In carrying out the activity, students will learn the principles underlying "structure-based drug design." They will also see how an effective drug against the AIDS virus fits tightly into the active site of the HIV protease enzyme. To increase the level of the lab, greater detail on protein structure and/or the life cycle of the HIV virus can be included. The activity ties in well with the CIBT "AIDS Transmission" and/or the CIBT "HIV Testing" activities. To demonstrate the importance of receptors, like fusin, that are required for HIV infection, you may use the CIBT activity called "Tupperware model".
Life Science, High School, Honors, or Advanced Placement Biology.
The first time the activity is used, the program and the data files will need to be acquired and loaded onto the computer(s). After that, minimal teacher prep time is required The activity takes 15-20 minutes of student time. If you have fewer than one computer per pair of students, you should provide alternate activities that students can work on while others are working on the computers.