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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2006 Jun;16(3):279-87. Epub 2006 May 19.

The building blocks and motifs of RNA architecture.

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Department of Chemistry and Center for Biomolecular Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA.


RNA motifs can be defined broadly as recurrent structural elements containing multiple intramolecular RNA-RNA interactions, as observed in atomic-resolution RNA structures. They constitute the modular building blocks of RNA architecture, which is organized hierarchically. Recent work has focused on analyzing RNA backbone conformations to identify, define and search for new instances of recurrent motifs in X-ray structures. One current view asserts that recurrent RNA strand segments with characteristic backbone configurations qualify as independent motifs. Other considerations indicate that, to characterize modular motifs, one must take into account the larger structural context of such strand segments. This follows the biologically relevant motivation, which is to identify RNA structural characteristics that are subject to sequence constraints and that thus relate RNA architectures to sequences.

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