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J Struct Biol. 2012 Sep;179(3):261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Computational methods for prediction of protein-RNA interactions.

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Bioinformatics Laboratory, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. Umultowska 89, PL-61-614 Poznan, Poland.


Understanding the molecular mechanism of protein-RNA recognition and complex formation is a major challenge in structural biology. Unfortunately, the experimental determination of protein-RNA complexes by X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is tedious and difficult. Alternatively, protein-RNA interactions can be predicted by computational methods. Although less accurate than experimental observations, computational predictions can be sufficiently accurate to prompt functional hypotheses and guide experiments, e.g. to identify individual amino acid or nucleotide residues. In this article we review 10 methods for predicting protein-RNA interactions, seven of which predict RNA-binding sites from protein sequences and three from structures. We also developed a meta-predictor that uses the output of top three sequence-based primary predictors to calculate a consensus prediction, which outperforms all the primary predictors. In order to fully cover the software for predicting protein-RNA interactions, we also describe five methods for protein-RNA docking. The article highlights the strengths and shortcomings of existing methods for the prediction of protein-RNA interactions and provides suggestions for their further development.

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