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To access the bioinformatics functionality, install these packages using the Package Manager (on the Sidebar, click Manage > Packages):

  • Required. Bio.
  • Optional. Biostructure Viewer: Visualization of macromolecules in 3D.
  • Optional. Helm: Rendering, editing, managing monomer libraries.
  • Optional. Peptides: SAR analysis for sequences.

Datagrok lets you work with macromolecules both on the macro (sequence) level and atomic level:

Data access

Datagrok provides a single, unified access point for organizations. You can connect to local file storage, clouds (Amazon S3, Google cloud, etc), SQL and NoSQL databases or any other of the 30+ supported data sources, retrieve data, and securely share data with others. Datagrok can ingest data in multiple file formats (such as Fasta or CSV) and multiple notations for nucleotide and amino acid sequences, with natural and modified monomers, aligned and non-aligned forms.

You can also create macromolecule queries against data sources using built-in querying tools. To learn more about querying data and data access in general, see the Access section of our documentation.

Exploring biological data

Datagrok provides a range of tools for analyzing macromolecules (Top Menu > Bio). In addition, Datagrok provides a comprehensive machine learning toolkit for clustering, dimensionality reduction techniques, imputation, PCA/PLS, and other tasks (Top Menu > ML). Some of these tools can be applied directly to macromolecules.

When you open a dataset, Datagrok automatically detects macromolecules and makes available macromolecule-specific context actions. For example, when you open a CSV file containing macromolecules in the FASTA format, the following happens:

  • Data is parsed, and the semantic type macromolecule is assigned to the corresponding column.
  • Macromolecules are automatically rendered in the spreadsheet.
  • Column tooltip now shows the sequence composition.
  • Default column filter is now a subsequence search.
  • A top menu item labeled Bio appears.
  • Column and cell properties now show macromolecule-specific actions, such as sequence renderer and libraries options, sequence preview, and macromolecule space preview.

Explore macromolecules

When you click on a column with macromolecules, you see the following in the Context Panel:

  • Filter
  • Manage Libraries
  • Sequence Renderer: Rendering options.
  • Peptides: From this pane, you can launch the SAR analysis for peptides.
Info pane options

Some info panes can be customized. To reveal an info pane's available options, hover over it:

  • View and/or edit the underlying script (click the Script icon).
  • Change parameters (click the Parameter icon).
  • Change the info pane's settings (click the Gear icon).
  • Append info pane as a column (click the More actions icon and select Add as a column).

To learn how to customize and extend the platform programmatically, see the Develop section of our documentation.


Info panes be extended with functions in any supported language.


The spreadsheet lets you visualize and edit sequences and macromolecules. You can add new columns with calculated values, interactively filter and search rows, color-code columns, pin rows or columns, set edit permissions, and more.

HELM is used for macromolecules with non-natural monomers, circular and branching structures. The structures are displayed with colors corresponding to each monomer.

HELM rendering

Macromolecule aware viewers

Datagrok viewers recognize and display macromolecules. The majority of the viewers were built from scratch to take advantage of Datagrok's in-memory database, enabling seamless access to the same data across all viewers. Viewers also share a consistent design and usage patterns. Any action taken on one viewer, such as hovering, selecting, or filtering, is automatically applied to all other viewers, creating an interconnected system ideal for exploratory data analysis.

Macromolecule-specific viewers include sequence logo, 3D structure viewers (biostructure and NGL viewer), and sequence tree viewers. Examples of general-purpose viewers that can be used to analyze biological data include a scatterplot, a network diagram, a tile viewer, a bar chart, a form viewer, and trellis plot, and others.


Composition analysis for MSA.

Composition analysis for MSA

All viewers can be saved as part of the layout or a dashboard. Some viewers offer built-in statistics.

To learn how to use viewers to explore data, complete this tutorial or visit the Visualize section of our documentation.


Analyzing docking results

To explore the binding interactions between small ligand molecules and biological structures, you can use either the NGL or biostructure viewer. Both viewers visualize the docked ligands in their spatial context and let you examine their orientation and positioning within the binding site.

How to use

Prerequisites: Prepare the simulation data in two separate files:

  • File 1: Contains the structure of a macromolecule in a supported format, such as PDB.
  • File 2: Contains the simulation results of the position of small molecules relative to the structure.

To visualize docked ligands, follow these steps:

  1. Open the table with ligands (File 2) in Datagrok.
  2. Add either the NGL or biostructure viewer.
  3. In the viewer, drop the file with the macromolecule structure (File 1).

You can interact with the ligands as follows:

  • To visualize docking for a particular ligand, click it. You can visualize multiple ligands simultaneously by selecting or hovering over rows.
  • If one ligand is selected, it will be visualized with a full-color ball+stick representation.
  • For multiple ligands:
    • The current row ligand is shown in green.
    • The mouse-over row ligand is shown in light gray.
    • The selected row(s) ligands is shown in orange.

You can further analyze the ligand data by applying filters, allowing you to focus on specific subsets based on criteria such as binding energy estimates or scoring functions. You can also cluster the ligands based on one or more parameters to identify patterns and groups within the dataset.

Sketching and editing

You can create and edit macromolecules:

  • For DNA, RNA, and protein sequences in the linear format, you can edit the sequences.
  • For HELM notation, you can add or remove monomers and modify connections. The editor supports circular and branching structures.

HELM editor

Searching and filtering

Datagrok offers an intuitive searching and filtering functionality for exploring datasets.

For sequence-based filtering of macromolecules, Datagrok uses integrated HELM editor for HELM notations and text-based filter for linear notations. All filters are interactive. Hovering over categories or distributions in the Filter Panel instantly highlights relevant data points across all viewers.

The search feature provides another way to analyze your dataset. The search results are presented as a new column in the table, where checkboxes indicate whether each sequence is a match or not. You can color-code the search results for quick visual profiling. In addition, like any other column in the table, this column can be used as a filter. This means you can create and apply additional filters based on the search results, facilitating further analysis and exploration of the dataset.

Sequence filter and search

How to filter

To filter by sequence, do the following:

  1. On the Top Menu, click the Filter icon to open the Filter Panel. The panel shows filters for all dataset columns. By default, the subsequence filter is displayed on top but you can rearrange, add, or remove filter columns by using available controls.
  2. To enter a subsequence, Click to edit button.
  3. Once finished, click OK to apply the filter.

To clear the filter, use the checkbox provided. To remove the filter altogether, use the Close (x) icon.

How to search

To search a dataset for matching sequences, do the following:

  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > Substructure Search... A dialog opens.
  2. In the dialog, paste or type the sequence in the field provided and click OK. A new column is added to the table.

To learn more about filtering, watch this video or read this article.

Manage monomer libraries

The default HELM monomer library is pre-installed with the Bio package. You can add your own monomer libraries using the dialog accessible from Top Menu > Bio > Manage > Monomer Libraries:

Monomer library file manager

To include monomers from a library, click on a checkbox next to its name.

To add a new monomer library file, click ADD button. All monomer library files are validated against the standard HELM JSON schema and must fully conform to it. The added files will be stored under AppData/Bio/monomer-libraries in file shares.

Sequence analysis

Sequence composition

You can create a sequence logo to show the letter composition for each position in a sequence. A sequence logo is usually created from a set of aligned sequences and helps identify patterns and variations within those sequences. A common use is to visualize protein-binding sites in DNA or functional motives in proteins.

Logo plot

How to use
  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > Composition Analysis. The sequence logo viewer is added to the Table View.
  2. To edit parameters, hover over the viewer's top and click the Gear icon.

Sequence space

Sequence space visualizes a collection of sequences in 2D such that similar sequences are placed close to each other (geekspeak: dimensionality reduction, tSNE, UMAP, distance functions). This allows to identify clusters of similar sequences, outliers, or patterns that might be difficult to detect otherwise. Results are visualized on the interactive scatterplot.

Sequence space analysis is particularly useful for separating groups of sequences with common motifs, such as different variants of complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) for antibodies.

Results of Sequence space run on the sample peptides data

How to use
  1. Go to the Top Menu and select Bio > Sequence Space... This opens a Sequence Space parameter dialog.
  2. In the dialog, select the column with sequences and set the parameters such as the distance metric (Tanimoto, Asymmetric, Cosine, Sokal) and the algorithm you want to use. To change default settings for the selected algorithm, click the Gear icon next to the Method name control.
  3. Click OK. A scatterplot is added to the view.

Hierarchical clustering

Hierarchical clustering groups sequences into an interactive dendrogram. In a dendrogram, distance to the nearest common node represents the degree of similarity between each pair of sequences. Clusters and their sizes can be obtained by traversing the trunk or branches of the tree and deciding at which level to cut or separate the branches. This process lets you identify different clusters based on the desired level of similarity or dissimilarity between data points.

Running hierarchical clustering on sequence data

How to use

To add a dendrogram viewer, do the following:

  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > Hierarchical clustering. A dialog opens.
  2. In the dialog, select the parameters and click OK to add the dendrogram to the Table View.

Multiple sequence alignment (MSA)

Multiple Sequence Alignment aligns sequences for macromolecules in both FASTA and HELM formats. For DNA, RNA, and natural peptides, we use KAlign, which can be modified to work with custom substitution matrices for sequences. For non-natural sequences, we use PepSeA, which enables alignment of multiple linear peptide sequences in HELM notation, with lengths of up to 256 non-natural amino acids.

How to use

To perform MSA, do the following:

  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > MSA... . A dialog opens.

    Multiple Sequence Alignment dialog

  2. In the dialog, select the sequence column (Sequence) and set other parameters. If your data has been clustered already, you can align sequences only within the same cluster. To do so, specify a column containing clusters (Cluster).

  3. Click OK to execute. A new column containing the aligned sequences is added to the table.

Sequence-Activity relationship analysis

Activity cliffs

The Activity Cliffs tool in Datagrok detects and visualizes pairs of sequences with highly similar monomer composition but significantly different activity levels, known as "activity cliffs". The Activity Cliffs tool is an enhanced version of Sequence Space, specifically designed for Sequence-Activity Relationship (SAR) analysis. To run the analysis, you need a dataframe that contains peptide/DNA sequences along with numerical data representing the associated activity. For example, you can use sequences of short peptides with measured antimicrobial effects or DNA sequences with measured affinity to a specific protein.

Results of the Activity Cliffs analysis

How to use

To run the activity cliffs analysis, do the following:

  1. In the Menu Ribbon, select Bio > Activity Cliffs... A parameter dialog opens.
  2. In the parameter dialog, specify the following:
    1. Select the source table, sequence column, and activity data column to analyze.
    2. Set the similarity cutoff.
    3. Select a dimensionality reduction algorithm and adjust its parameters using the Gear icon next to the Method control.
  3. Click OK to execute the analysis. A scatterplot visualization is added to the view.
  4. Optional. In the scatterplot, click the link with the detected number of cliffs to open an Activity Cliffs table containing all pairs of molecules identified as cliffs. The tables also has detailed information such as similarity score, activity difference score, and other data.

In the scatterplot, the marker color corresponds to the level of the sequence activity, and the size represents the maximum detected activity cliff for that sequence. The opacity of the line connecting sequence pairs corresponds to the size of the activity cliff.

To explore the sequence pairs:

  • Click a sequence in the source dataframe to zoom in on the scatterplot and focus on the pair that includes the selected molecule. Hover over sequence pairs and connecting lines to see summary information about them.
  • Click the line connecting sequences in the scatterplot to select a corresponding pair of sequences in the underlying dataframe and Activity Cliffs table. The reverse also applies: clicking a pair in the Activity Cliffs table updates the scatterplot and selects the corresponding rows in the underlying dataframe.

As you browse the dataset, the Context Panel updates with relevant information.

SAR for peptides

The Peptides application performs SAR analysis of peptides. The app offers the following features:

  • Automatic detection of most potent monomer/positions.
  • Filtering based on monomer, position, or any other attribute.
  • Ability to analyze differences in activity distribution for groups of peptides.
  • Dynamic calculations of statistically significant differences in activity distributions between groups.
  • Analyzing the peptide space.

Peptides plugin


Format conversion

Datagrok converts macromolecules between formats, such as HELM or FASTA.

For individual macromolecules, the conversion happens automatically as you interact with them in the dataset. The Context Panel shows all supported notations, along with the sequence view . You can also perform conversion on the entire column by choosing the corresponding option from the Bio > Convert menu.

Split to monomers

You can split linear macromolecules to monomers.

Split to monomers

How to use
  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > Convert > Split to Monomers. A dialog opens.
  2. In the dialog, select the sequence column and click OK to execute. New columns containing monomers are added to the table.

Get atomic-level structure

You have two options to generate the atomic structure of the sequences:

  • Generate the sequence using the Helm Editor which results in the unordered molecule graph.
  • For linear sequences, reproduce the linear form of molecules. This is useful for better visual inspection of a sequence and duplex comparison.

This approach could be used for any given case of HELM notation in order to get a visually appropriate form of monomers in cycles etc. Structure at atomic level could be saved in available notations.

Restoring structure atomic level

How to use
  1. In the Top Menu, select Bio > Convert > To Atomic Level. A dialog opens.
  2. In the dialog, select the sequence column and click OK to execute. A new column containing atomic structures of sequences is added to the table. In addition, a menu Chem appears in the Top Menu. Clicking the atomic-level structures displays cheminformatics-related information in the Context Panel.

Get region

With Datagrok, you can extract a region of sequences in a Macromolecule column. The Get Region function maintains .positionNames and .positionLabels for extracted region. The Get Region input form shows Region input if a Macromolecule column is annotated with .regions tag (JSON format), to easy selection region of interest to extract.

Get region for Macromolecule

How to use
  1. To call Get Region:

    • Select Bio > Convert > GetRegion. A dialog opens. In the dialog select a table and a sequence column.
    • Click on the Hamburger icon of a Macromolecule column. Expand section Get Region.
  2. Fill in start and end positions of the region of interest, and name of a column. A new column containing sequences of the region of interest is added to the table.

Oligo Toolkit

The Oligo Toolkit is a collection of tools helping you to work with oligonucleotide sequences. To learn more and how to use, see the OligoToolkit page.

Customizing and extending the platform

Datagrok is a highly flexible platform that can be tailored to meet your specific needs and requirements. With its comprehensive set of functions and scripting capabilities, you can customize and enhance any aspect of the platform to suit your biological data needs.

For instance, you can add new data formats, custom libraries, apply custom models, or perform advanced calculations and analyses using powerful bioinformatics libraries like Biopython, Bioconductor, ScanPy, and others.

You can also add or change UI elements, create custom connectors, menus, context actions, and more. You can even develop entire applications on top of the platform or customize any existing open-source plugins.

Learn more about extending and customizing Datagrok.