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Plant Signal Behav. 2013 Jun;8(6):e24301. doi: 10.4161/psb.24301. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Arabidopsis mRNA secondary structure correlates with protein function and domains.

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Department of Biology; PENN Genome Frontiers Institute; University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA USA; Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program; University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA USA.


RNAs fold into intricate structures that are determined by specific base pairing interactions encoded within their primary sequences. Recently, a number of transcriptome-wide studies have suggested that RNA secondary structure is a potent cis-acting regulator of numerous post-transcriptional processes in viruses and eukaryotes. However, the need for experimentally-based structure determination methods has not been well addressed. Here, we show that the regulatory significance of Arabidopsis RNA secondary structure is revealed specifically through high-throughput, sequencing-based, structure mapping data, not by computational prediction. Additionally, we find that transcripts with similar levels of secondary structure in their UTRs (5' or 3') or CDS tend to encode proteins with coherent functions. Finally, we reveal that portions of mRNAs encoding predicted protein domains are significantly more structured than those specifying inter-domain regions. In total, our findings show the utility of high-throughput, sequencing-based, structure-mapping approaches and suggest that mRNA folding regulates protein maturation and function.


RNA genomics; mRNA secondary structure; post-transcriptional regulation; protein domains

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