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J Mol Biol. 1997 Oct 17;273(1):7-13.

Folding of RNA involves parallel pathways.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park 20742-2021, USA.


Folding kinetics of large RNAs are just beginning to be investigated. We show that the Tetrahymena self-splicing RNA partitions into a population that rapidly reaches the native state, and a slowly folding population that is trapped in metastable misfolded structures. Transitions from the misfolded structures to the native state involve partial unfolding. The total yield of native RNA is increased by iterative annealing of the inactive population, and mildly denaturing conditions increase the rate of folding at physiological temperatures. These results provide the first evidence that an RNA can fold by multiple parallel paths.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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