Ribbon diagram

richardson ribbon diagram

Ribbon diagrams, also known as Richardson Diagrams, are 3D schematic representations of protein structure and are one of the most common methods of protein depiction used today. Ribbon diagrams are generated by interpolating a smooth curve through the polypeptide backbone. Ribbon diagrams are simple, yet powerful, in expressing the visual basics of a molecular structure (twist, fold and unfold). This method has successfully portrayed the overall organization of the protein structure, reflecting its 3-dimensional information, and allowing for better understanding of a complex object both by the expert structural biologists and also by other scientists, students, and the general public.

Originally conceived by Jane S. Richardson in 1980, her hand-drawn ribbon diagrams were the first schematics of 3D protein structure to be produced systematically. They are generated by interpolating a smooth curve through the polypeptide backbone. Alpha-helices are shown as coiled ribbons or thick tubes, Beta-strands as arrows, and lines or thin tubes for random coils. The direction of the polypeptide chain may be indicated by a color ramp along the length of the ribbon.

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