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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The cells of higher organisms store their genetic material, the genome, in the so-called nucleus where they organize transcription of DNA into messenger-RNA, the blueprint for proteins. The messenger-RNA leaves the cell to be decoded by ribosomes that synthesize the respective proteins. Transcription factors, also proteins, control in the nucleus which parts of the cells' genomes are transcribed. Naturally, the access to the nucleus as well as exit from it must be restricted to transcription factors and related biomolecules. This is achieved by the nuclear pores, wide channels lined with brushes of polymers. The polymers are disordered proteins and prevent passage for most cellular proteins, except for so-called transport factors which bus transcription factors, messenger RNA, and certain larger biomolecule into and out of the nucleus. How transport factors are permitted to pass the nuclear pores, despite many studies, has been largely unknown. Molecular dynamics simulations, based on relevant crystallographic structures, using NAMD provided a comprehensive picture on the passage mechanism as reported recently. The simulations, analyzed with VMD, revealed that transport factors are dotted rather regularly on their surface with spots that bind to the brushes of nuclear pore proteins. While any protein may accidentally exhibit such a binding spot or two, only transport factors offer a regular pattern of such spots on their surface that apparently is their passport permitting them movement into and out of the nucleus, i.e., helping them to glide through the pores' protein brushes. More on simulations of transport factors can be found here.
Other Spotlights

image size:
movie: 4.6MB
made with VMD


Molecular representations
VMD plugin library
Molecular file formats
GPU-accelerated computing
Interactive molecular dynamics
Programs that use VMD
VMD research publications
How to cite VMD
VMD citation list (24,000 as of Apr'18)


Download (all versions)
VMD 1.9.3 (MacOS X, Unix, Windows)
VMD 1.9.2 (MacOS X, Unix, Windows)
VMD 1.9.1 (MacOS X, Unix, Windows)
VMD script library
License, Copyright and Disclaimer

Documentation and Support

User and installation guides
VMD-L mailing list
Publication image tutorial (YouTube)
Quick help
Bug List

News and Announcements

19,200 human protein structures visualized with VMD, Kresten Lindorff-Larsen
NanoShaper-VMD interface: computing and visualizing surfaces, pockets and channels in molecular systems, Bioinformatics, 2018
Best Practices in Running Collaborative GPU Hackathons, CiSE, 2018
NAMD goes quantum: an integrative suite for hybrid simulations, Nature Methods, 2018
J. Physical Chemistry B, Klaus Schulten Memorial Issue, 2017
Challenges of Integrating Stochastic Dynamics and Cryo-electron Tomograms in Whole-cell Simulations, JPCB 2017
Early Experiences Porting the NAMD and VMD Molecular Simulation and Analysis Software to GPU-Accelerated OpenPOWER Platforms, LNCS 2016
Immersive Molecular Visualization with Omnidirectional Stereoscopic Ray Tracing and Remote Rendering, HPDAV 2016
High Performance Molecular Visualization: In-Situ and Parallel Rendering with EGL, HPDAV 2016
Evaluation of Emerging Energy-Efficient Heterogeneous Computing Platforms for Biomolecular and Cellular Simulation Workloads, HCW 2016
Atomic Detail Visualization of Photosynthetic Membranes with GPU-Accelerated Ray Tracing, J. Par. Comp. 2016
TopoGromacs: Automated Topology Conversion from CHARMM to GROMACS within VMD, JCIM 2016
Past announcements


Chromatophore VR demo (VMD + Unreal Game Engine) shown in NVIDIA booth at SC'16
Example VMD VR/3-D YouTube videos
Chemical Visualization of Human Pathogens: the Retroviral Capsids, Finalist, SC'15 Viz. Showcase
Visualization of Energy Conversion Processes in a Light Harvesting Organelle at Atomic Detail, 1st Place Winner, SC'14 Viz. Showcase
VMD movie gallery on YouTube
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