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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jan;40(Database issue):D439-44. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr943. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

RNA CoSSMos: Characterization of Secondary Structure Motifs--a searchable database of secondary structure motifs in RNA three-dimensional structures.

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Department of Chemistry, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63103, USA.


RNA secondary structure is important for designing therapeutics, understanding protein-RNA binding and predicting tertiary structure of RNA. Several databases and downloadable programs exist that specialize in the three-dimensional (3D) structure of RNA, but none focus specifically on secondary structural motifs such as internal, bulge and hairpin loops. The RNA Characterization of Secondary Structure Motifs (RNA CoSSMos) database is a freely accessible and searchable online database and website of 3D characteristics of secondary structure motifs. To create the RNA CoSSMos database, 2156 Protein Data Bank (PDB) files were searched for internal, bulge and hairpin loops, and each loop's structural information, including sugar pucker, glycosidic linkage, hydrogen bonding patterns and stacking interactions, was included in the database. False positives were defined, identified and reclassified or omitted from the database to ensure the most accurate results possible. Users can search via general PDB information, experimental parameters, sequence and specific motif and by specific structural parameters in the subquery page after the initial search. Returned results for each search can be viewed individually or a complete set can be downloaded into a spreadsheet to allow for easy comparison. The RNA CoSSMos database is automatically updated weekly and is available at

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