SITE VISIT: Anatomy of a Protein

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Science  05 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5403, pp. 755
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5403.755d

Want to put a face to a name for such leading figures as immunoglobulins, cytochrome c, or the HIV integrase? The Image Library of Biological Macromolecules lets you do just that, with more than 9000 snapshots of proteins and other biomolecules—from short snippets of DNA to complex ribozymes and a few carbohydrates.

A structural biologist can always look up images of molecules in the Protein Data Bank and the Nucleic Acid Database. But the Image Library aims to bridge the gap between specialists and nonexperts. “We wanted to present the structures in a clear and user-friendly way,” says Jürgen Sühnel of the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology in Jena, Germany, which hosts the site. Toward that end, the library offers far more than mug shots, featuring colorful ribbon and space models, stick models, and line drawings, in stereo and virtual reality—making it one of the richest sources of visualizations on the Web, Sühnel says. A typical entry includes detailed structural data and links to the original publication and other databases.

The site also provides valuable explanatory material about the building blocks of biomolecules and structural biology in general, such as an introduction to x-ray crystallography. It's even sprinkled with molecular humor. Want to hear the top 10 reasons why you ought to know something about crystallography? Visit and find out.

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