BioVR: a platform for virtual reality assisted biological data integration and visualization


BMC Bioinformatics. Published online: February 2019. DOI: 10.1186/s12859-019-2666-z

Jimmy F. Zhang, Alex R. Paciorkowski, Paul A. Craig and Feng Cui



Functional characterization of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) involves two steps, the first step is to convert DNA to protein and the second step is to visualize protein sequences with their structures. As massively parallel sequencing has emerged as a leading technology in genomics, resulting in a significant increase in data volume, direct visualization of SNVs together with associated protein sequences/structures in a new user interface (UI) would be a more effective way to assess their potential effects on protein function.


We have developed BioVR, an easy-to-use interactive, virtual reality (VR)-assisted platform for integrated visual analysis of DNA/RNA/protein sequences and protein structures using Unity3D and the C# programming language. It utilizes the cutting-edge Oculus Rift, and Leap Motion hand detection, resulting in intuitive navigation and exploration of various types of biological data. Using Gria2 and its associated gene product as an example, we present this proof-of-concept software to integrate protein and nucleic acid data. For any amino acid or nucleotide of interest in the Gria2 sequence, it can be quickly linked to its corresponding location on Gria2 protein structure and visualized within VR.


Using innovative 3D techniques, we provide a VR-based platform for visualization of DNA/RNA sequences and protein structures in aggregate, which can be extended to view omics data.