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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011 Feb 1;3(2). pii: a003632. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a003632.

Predicting and modeling RNA architecture.

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Architecture et Réactivité de l'ARN, Université de Strasbourg, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du CNRS, 67084 Strasbourg, France.


A general approach for modeling the architecture of large and structured RNA molecules is described. The method exploits the modularity and the hierarchical folding of RNA architecture that is viewed as the assembly of preformed double-stranded helices defined by Watson-Crick base pairs and RNA modules maintained by non-Watson-Crick base pairs. Despite the extensive molecular neutrality observed in RNA structures, specificity in RNA folding is achieved through global constraints like lengths of helices, coaxiality of helical stacks, and structures adopted at the junctions of helices. The Assemble integrated suite of computer tools allows for sequence and structure analysis as well as interactive modeling by homology or ab initio assembly with possibilities for fitting within electronic density maps. The local key role of non-Watson-Crick pairs guides RNA architecture formation and offers metrics for assessing the accuracy of three-dimensional models in a more useful way than usual root mean square deviation (RMSD) values.

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