RCSB Protein Data bank: Tools for visualizing and understanding biological macromolecules in 3D

Protein Sci. 2022 Dec;31(12):e4482. doi: 10.1002/pro.4482.


Now in its 52nd year of continuous operations, the Protein Data Bank (PDB) is the premiere open-access global archive housing three-dimensional (3D) biomolecular structure data. It is jointly managed by the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) partnership. The Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB) is funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and US Department of Energy and serves as the US data center for the wwPDB. RCSB PDB is also responsible for the security of PDB data in its role as wwPDB-designated Archive Keeper. Every year, RCSB PDB serves tens of thousands of depositors of 3D macromolecular structure data (coming from macromolecular crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and micro-electron diffraction). The RCSB PDB research-focused web portal (RCSB.org) makes PDB data available at no charge and without usage restrictions to many millions of PDB data consumers around the world. The RCSB PDB training, outreach, and education web portal (PDB101.RCSB.org) serves nearly 700 K educators, students, and members of the public worldwide. This invited Tools Issue contribution describes how RCSB PDB (i) is organized; (ii) works with wwPDB partners to process new depositions; (iii) serves as the wwPDB-designated Archive Keeper; (iv) enables exploration and 3D visualization of PDB data via RCSB.org; and (v) supports training, outreach, and education via PDB101.RCSB.org. New tools and features at RCSB.org are presented using examples drawn from high-resolution structural studies of proteins relevant to treatment of human cancers by targeting immune checkpoints.

Keywords: Mol*; PDB; Protein Data Bank; RCSB Protein Data Bank; Worldwide Protein Data Bank; electron microscopy; macromolecular crystallography; micro-electron diffraction; nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; open access.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology* / methods
  • Databases, Protein
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins* / chemistry


  • Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances