VMD is a molecular visualization program for displaying, animating, and analyzing large biomolecular systems using 3-D graphics and built-in scripting. VMD supports computers running MacOS X, Unix, or Windows, is distributed free of charge, and includes source code.
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Globins are oxygen-storing proteins, vital to life. In our blood, hemoglobins carry oxygen from our lungs to every cell in our body. In our muscles, myoglobins keep reserves of oxygen to make sure it is available when needed. In some plants, leghemoglobins capture oxygen molecules that would otherwise be harmful to the production of ammonium necessary for the plant's survival. All these globins possess an iron-containig "heme", that grabs on to oxygen for a short time, and share the same protein architecture, despite large variations in their sequences. Since the heme group is buried inside a globin, scientists wondered how oxygen makes its way inside the protein to reach it. Exploring the motion and energetics of globins using the program NAMD researchers learned to gather data that permitted them to visualize, utilizing the VMD software, all the pathways taken by oxygen migrating inside whale myoglobin (see the Aug 2006 highlight and related publication). However, when the researchers turned their attention to the rest of the globin family to compute their oxygen pathways, they found, on their computational spelunking trip, something surprising. Given the conserved architecture of all globins, they expected to see similar oxygen pathways throughout the globin family, but they saw the opposite! Aside from a conserved pocket right at the heme binding site, the distribution of oxygen pathways showed very little similarity from one globin to the next. This result is described in a recent report, which shows that oxygen-pathways are not conserved by evolution, and that their location is not determined by a protein's overall architecture, but rather by its local amino acids. The researchers also learned which amino acids are found more often than others lining oxygen pathways, recognizing that bulky side groups are not hindering, but favoring oxygen passage. More information can be found here.
Other Spotlights
O2 pathways in trematode hemoglobin


Molecular representations
Molecular file formats
GPU-accelerated computing
Interactive molecular dynamics
Programs that use VMD
VMD research publications
How to cite VMD
VMD citation list, (12,743 as of May'14)


Download (all versions)
VMD 1.9.1 (MacOS X, Unix, Windows)
VMD 1.9 (MacOS X, Unix, Windows)
VMD plugin library
VMD script library
License, Copyright and Disclaimer

Documentation and Support

User and installation guides
Quick help
VMD-L mailing list
Bug List

News and Announcements

GPU-Accelerated Analysis and Visualization of Large Structures Solved by Molecular Dynamics Flexible Fitting, FD169, 2014.
Methodologies for the Analysis of Instantaneous Lipid Diffusion in MD Simulations of Large Membrane Systems, FD169, 2014.
Webinar: GPU-Supercharged Molecular Visualization / Analysis with VMD
2014 VMD Calendar
GPU-accelerated molecular visualization on petascale supercomputing platforms, UltraVis'13
Early Experiences Scaling VMD Molecular Visualization and Analysis Jobs on Blue Waters, Proc. XSCALE, 2013.
Rapid parameterization of small molecules using ffTK, JCC, 2013.
Most cited since 2008: "GPU-Accelerated Molecular Modeling Coming of Age"
VMD QuickSurf rendering of HIV-1 capsid on cover of Nature 497 (7451), 2013.
Lattice microbes: High-performance stochastic simulation method for the reaction-diffusion master equation, J. Comp. Chem, 2013.
Force Field Toolkit (FFTK) tutorial screencasts
Fast Visualization of Gaussian Density Surfaces for Molecular Dynamics and Particle System Trajectories, EuroVis 2012.
Immersive out-of-core visualization of large-size and long-timescale molecular dynamics trajectories, LNCS, 2011.
Past announcements


Gallery of Posters, Images, and Movies made with VMD
VMD running in the NanoDome at Temple University


VMD User Survey Results
VMD development status and pre-release test downloads
CVS source code access
VMD Programmer's documentation