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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Apr;39(8):3017-25. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq1266. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Structure-based prediction of RNA-binding domains and RNA-binding sites and application to structural genomics targets.

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School of Informatics, Indiana University Purdue University and Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Mechanistic understanding of many key cellular processes often involves identification of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and RNA binding sites in two separate steps. Here, they are predicted simultaneously by structural alignment to known protein-RNA complex structures followed by binding assessment with a DFIRE-based statistical energy function. This method achieves 98% accuracy and 91% precision for predicting RBPs and 93% accuracy and 78% precision for predicting RNA-binding amino-acid residues for a large benchmark of 212 RNA binding and 6761 non-RNA binding domains (leave-one-out cross-validation). Additional tests revealed that the method makes no false positive prediction from 311 DNA binding domains but correctly detects six domains binding with both DNA and RNA. In addition, it correctly identified 31 of 75 unbound RNA-binding domains with 92% accuracy and 65% precision for predicted binding residues and achieved 86% success rate in its application to SCOP RNA binding domain superfamily (Structural Classification Of Proteins). It further predicts 25 targets as RBPs in 2076 structural genomics targets: 20 of 25 predicted ones (80%) are putatively RNA binding. The superior performance over existing methods indicates the importance of dividing structures into domains, using a Z-score to measure relative structural similarity, and a statistical energy function to measure protein-RNA binding affinity.

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