ProteinVR: Web-based molecular visualization in virtual reality

PLoS Comput Biol. 2020 Mar 31;16(3):e1007747. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007747. eCollection 2020 Mar.


Protein structure determines biological function. Accurately conceptualizing 3D protein/ligand structures is thus vital to scientific research and education. Virtual reality (VR) enables protein visualization in stereoscopic 3D, but many VR molecular-visualization programs are expensive and challenging to use; work only on specific VR headsets; rely on complicated model-preparation software; and/or require the user to install separate programs or plugins. Here we introduce ProteinVR, a web-based application that works on various VR setups and operating systems. ProteinVR displays molecular structures within 3D environments that give useful biological context and allow users to situate themselves in 3D space. Our web-based implementation is ideal for hypothesis generation and education in research and large-classroom settings. We release ProteinVR under the open-source BSD-3-Clause license. A copy of the program is available free of charge from, and a working version can be accessed at

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Internet*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins* / chemistry
  • Proteins* / ultrastructure
  • Virtual Reality*


  • Proteins