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Biochem Soc Trans. 2020 Mar 20. pii: BST20190621. doi: 10.1042/BST20190621. [Epub ahead of print]

Visualizing protein structures - tools and trends.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie Théorique, CNRS, Université de Paris, UPR 9080, 13 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, F-75005, Paris, France.
Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique-Fondation Edmond de Rotschild, PSL Research University, Paris, France.
Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale IPBS, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UPS, Toulouse, France.


Molecular visualization is fundamental in the current scientific literature, textbooks and dissemination materials. It provides an essential support for presenting results, reasoning on and formulating hypotheses related to molecular structure. Tools for visual exploration of structural data have become easily accessible on a broad variety of platforms thanks to advanced software tools that render a great service to the scientific community. These tools are often developed across disciplines bridging computer science, biology and chemistry. This mini-review was written as a short and compact overview for scientists who need to visualize protein structures and want to make an informed decision which tool they should use. Here, we first describe a few 'Swiss Army knives' geared towards protein visualization for everyday use with an existing large user base, then focus on more specialized tools for peculiar needs that are not yet as broadly known. Our selection is by no means exhaustive, but reflects a diverse snapshot of scenarios that we consider informative for the reader. We end with an account of future trends and perspectives.


molecular graphics; protein visualization; software tools; virtual reality


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