Virtual reality computer program for biomolecule structure determination
Protein structures are complex 3-dimensional shapes that are experimentally determined using x-ray crystallography and cryogenic electron microscopy. Interpreting the data that these methods yield involves building simplified 3D models. Some portion of time spent creating these models must be spent manually modifying the model in order to make it line up with the data; this is difficult and time consuming, in part because the data is “blurry” in three dimensions. We have created a computer program for performing this task in virtual reality, which allows structural biologists to build models using their hands. Furthermore, we have evaluated the program and found that it speeds up model building, in certain circumstances.