February 15, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 4)


Strong Points: Intuitive to use, shows different structural levels
Weak Points: Sometimes slow to render


There exist a number of high-quality 3D molecule viewers; however, the StarBiochem program is different in that it is specifically designed for students of biochemistry. In biochemistry courses, protein structure is introduced sequentially: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure. Similarly, the StarBiochem Java applet allows users to explore 3D protein structures at these four levels of molecular interactions. For each structural level, users can adjust the size and transparency of the atoms and bonds (or larger structural motifs), which allows users to simultaneously view primary-through-quaternary structural features. Additionally, the program allows users to display or hide specific amino acid residues or other features of the 3D model. Users can open any of the included sample files or import any PDB file. The program is accompanied by a concise but thorough user manual and is overall quite intuitive to use.

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