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Gene. 2010 Sep 1;463(1-2):41-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 May 12.

On nucleotide solvent accessibility in RNA structure.

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Bio-informatics Centre, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong-22, Meghalaya, India.


Sequence dependence of solvent accessibility in globular and membrane proteins is well established. However, this important structural property has been poorly investigated in nucleic acids. On the other hand investigation of structural determinants of transcriptional and post-transcriptional processes in gene expression are also in a primitive stage and there is a need to explore novel sequence and structural features of both DNA and RNA, which may explain both basic and regulatory mechanisms at various stages of expression. We have recently shown that the nucleotide accessibility in double-stranded DNA molecules strongly depends on sequence context and can be predicted using neighbor information. In this work, we investigate statistics, neighbor-dependence and predictability of nucleotide solvent accessibility for various types of RNA molecules (single-stranded, double-stranded, protein-unbound and protein-bound). It was found that average solvent accessibility of different RNA trinucleotides varies considerably. Interestingly, important translational signals (initiatory AUG codon, Shine-Dalgharno site) were characterized by high solvent accessibility that could be important for its selection in evolution. We also analyzed a relationship between nucleotide accessibility and synonymous codon usage bias in some genomes and find that the two properties are directly related. We believe that the analysis and prediction of nucleotide solvent accessibility opens new avenues to explore more biologically meaningful relationship between RNA structure and function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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