Vesicle Viewer: Online visualization and analysis of small-angle scattering from lipid vesicles
Small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering are among the most powerful experimental techniques for investigating the structure of biological membranes. Much of the critical information contained in small-angle scattering (SAS) data is not easily accessible to researchers who have limited time to analyze results by hand or to nonexperts who may lack the necessary scientific background to process such data. Easy-to-use data visualization software can allow them to take full advantage of their SAS data and maximize the use of limited resources. To this end, we developed an internet-based application called Vesicle Viewer to visualize and analyze SAS data from unilamellar lipid bilayer vesicles. Vesicle Viewer utilizes a modified scattering density profile (SDP) analysis called EZ-SDP in which key bilayer structural parameters, such as area per lipid and bilayer thickness, are easily and robustly determined. Notably, we introduce a bilayer model that is able to describe an asymmetric bilayer, whether it be chemically or isotopically asymmetric. The application primarily uses Django, a Python package specialized for the development of robust web applications. In addition, several other libraries are used to support the more technical aspects of the project; notable examples are Matplotlib (for graphs) and NumPy (for calculations). By eliminating the barrier of downloading and installing software, this web-based application will allow scientists to analyze their own vesicle scattering data using their preferred operating system. The web-based application can be found at https://vesicleviewer.dmarquardt.ca/.
Lewis-Laurent, Aislyn; Doktorova, Milka; Heberle, Frederick A.; and Marquardt, Drew. (2021). Vesicle Viewer: Online visualization and analysis of small-angle scattering from lipid vesicles. Biophysical Journal, 120 (21), 4639-4648.