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RNA. 2011 Jun;17(6):1066-75. doi: 10.1261/rna.2543711. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Fully differentiable coarse-grained and all-atom knowledge-based potentials for RNA structure evaluation.

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INRIA AMIB Bioinformatique, Laboratoire d'Informatique (LIX), Ecole Polytechnique, 91128 Palaiseau, France.


RNA molecules play integral roles in gene regulation, and understanding their structures gives us important insights into their biological functions. Despite recent developments in template-based and parameterized energy functions, the structure of RNA--in particular the nonhelical regions--is still difficult to predict. Knowledge-based potentials have proven efficient in protein structure prediction. In this work, we describe two differentiable knowledge-based potentials derived from a curated data set of RNA structures, with all-atom or coarse-grained representation, respectively. We focus on one aspect of the prediction problem: the identification of native-like RNA conformations from a set of near-native models. Using a variety of near-native RNA models generated from three independent methods, we show that our potential is able to distinguish the native structure and identify native-like conformations, even at the coarse-grained level. The all-atom version of our knowledge-based potential performs better and appears to be more effective at discriminating near-native RNA conformations than one of the most highly regarded parameterized potential. The fully differentiable form of our potentials will additionally likely be useful for structure refinement and/or molecular dynamics simulations.

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