Kinemages, Mage and KiNG

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Kinemages (a term derived from "kinetic images") are interactive molecular visualizations that are displayed in a free, stand-alone program called Mage, or in a free java applet called KiNG (which means Kinemage, Next Generation).

Kinemages show the author's viewpoint -- pre-programmed scenes of a macromolecule (or other 3D object). The prescient design of Kinemages in the early 1990's presaged the Internet which followed a few years later: Kinemages have an interactive molecular view, scrolling text descriptions, and menus that display a sequence of molecular scenes. Many molecular structure tutorial mechanisms have subsequently flattered Kinemages by imitating their design using Chime or Jmol -- see for example tutorials at MolviZ.Org.


KiNG in Proteopedia

KiNG may be used in Proteopedia. An example may be seen at Hemoglobin#Hemoglobin_subunit_binding_O2. For instructions on inserting a KiNG applet in your page, follow this Cookbook recipe. However, the scenes displayed in KiNG must be authored by a relatively complicated and technical process, in contrast to the Scene Authoring Tools implemented for Jmol in Proteopedia. Also, while green links in text can change the molecular scene in Jmol, this is not implemented for KiNG.


Historically, kinemages, initially released in 1992[1], were the first widely available software capable of rotating macromolecules on personal computers (followed in 1993 by RasMol). The software was described in the lead article in the first issue of the journal Protein Science. For several years thereafter, issues were mailed out accompanied with a floppy disk containing the software and Kinemages illustrating articles in that issue. During the mid-1990's, over a thousand kinemages[2] were created by authors of articles in Protein Science, and by David and Jane Richardson (the developers of Mage, Kinemages, and KiNG). Selected Kinemages remain available from the Richardson's Select Kinemage Files List.

Unfortunately, Protein Science discontinued its groundbreaking use of Kinemages, in part due to the cost, time and skill required to produce Kinemages of good quality. In the Internet era, interactive visualization of the author's viewpoint on journal websites resumed in November, 2006, in ACS Chemical Biology, and subsequently other journals (see Use of Jmol in Scientific Journals), including, in 2009, Protein Science[3][4].

See Also


  1. Richardson DC, Richardson JS. The kinemage: a tool for scientific communication. Protein Sci. 1992 Jan;1(1):3-9. PMID:1304880
  2. The statement of "over one thousand kinemages" is based on personal communication by Jane Richardson to Eric Martz in 1999.
  3. A. G. Palmer and B. W. Matthews, Interactive graphics return to protein science, Protein Science 18:677 (2009).
  4. doi:

Proteopedia Page Contributors and Editors (what is this?)

Eric Martz, Jaime Prilusky, Karsten Theis

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