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J Mol Biol. 2002 Mar 22;317(2):191-203.

Dynalign: an algorithm for finding the secondary structure common to two RNA sequences.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, NY 14627-0216, USA.


With the rapid increase in the size of the genome sequence database, computational analysis of RNA will become increasingly important in revealing structure-function relationships and potential drug targets. RNA secondary structure prediction for a single sequence is 73 % accurate on average for a large database of known secondary structures. This level of accuracy provides a good starting point for determining a secondary structure either by comparative sequence analysis or by the interpretation of experimental studies. Dynalign is a new computer algorithm that improves the accuracy of structure prediction by combining free energy minimization and comparative sequence analysis to find a low free energy structure common to two sequences without requiring any sequence identity. It uses a dynamic programming construct suggested by Sankoff. Dynalign, however, restricts the maximum distance, M, allowed between aligned nucleotides in the two sequences. This makes the calculation tractable because the complexity is simplified to O(M(3)N(3)), where N is the length of the shorter sequence. The accuracy of Dynalign was tested with sets of 13 tRNAs, seven 5 S rRNAs, and two R2 3' UTR sequences. On average, Dynalign predicted 86.1 % of known base-pairs in the tRNAs, as compared to 59.7 % for free energy minimization alone. For the 5 S rRNAs, the average accuracy improves from 47.8 % to 86.4 %. The secondary structure of the R2 3' UTR from Drosophila takahashii is poorly predicted by standard free energy minimization. With Dynalign, however, the structure predicted in tandem with the sequence from Drosophila melanogaster nearly matches the structure determined by comparative sequence analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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