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Kucharik M.,Institute for Theoretical Chemistry | Hofacker I.L.,Institute for Theoretical Chemistry | Hofacker I.L.,University of Vienna | Hofacker I.L.,Copenhagen University | And 7 more authors.
Bioinformatics | Year: 2014

Motivation: RNA folding is a complicated kinetic process. The minimum free energy structure provides only a static view of the most stable conformational state of the system. It is insufficient to give detailed insights into the dynamic behavior of RNAs. A sufficiently sophisticated analysis of the folding free energy landscape, however, can provide the relevant information. Results: We introduce the Basin Hopping Graph (BHG) as a novel coarse-grained model of folding landscapes. Each vertex of the BHG is a local minimum, which represents the corresponding basin in the landscape. Its edges connect basins when the direct transitions between them are 'energetically favorable'. Edge weights endcode the corresponding saddle heights and thus measure the difficulties of these favorable transitions. BHGs can be approximated accurately and efficiently for RNA molecules well beyond the length range accessible to enumerative algorithms. © 2014 The Author 2014.

Gruber A.R.,Institute for Theoretical Chemistry | Fallmann J.,Institute for Theoretical Chemistry | Kratochvill F.,University of Vienna | Kovarik P.,University of Vienna | Hofacker I.L.,Institute for Theoretical Chemistry
Nucleic Acids Research | Year: 2011

AREsite is an online resource for the detailed investigation of AU-rich elements (ARE) in vertebrate mRNA 3'-untranslated regions (UTRs). AREs are one of the most prominent cis-acting regulatory elements found in 3'-UTRs of mRNAs. Various ARE-binding proteins that possess RNA stabilizing or destabilizing functions are recruited by sequence-specific motifs. Recent findings suggest an essential role of the structural mRNA context in which these sequence motifs are embedded. AREsite is the first database that allows to quantify the structuredness of ARE motif sites in terms of opening energies and accessibility probabilities. Moreover, we also provide a detailed phylogenetic analysis of ARE motifs and incorporate information about experimentally validated targets of the ARE-binding proteins TTP, HuR and Auf1. The database is publicly available at: Http://rna.tbi .univie.ac.at/AREsite. © The Author(s) 2010.

PubMed | Santa Fe Institute, Institute for Theoretical Chemistry, Copenhagen University and University of Southern Denmark
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Bioinformatics (Oxford, England) | Year: 2016

The function of an RNA molecule is not only linked to its native structure, which is usually taken to be the ground state of its folding landscape, but also in many cases crucially depends on the details of the folding pathways such as stable folding intermediates or the timing of the folding process itself. To model and understand these processes, it is necessary to go beyond ground state structures. The study of rugged RNA folding landscapes holds the key to answer these questions. Efficient coarse-graining methods are required to reduce the intractably vast energy landscapes into condensed representations such as barrier trees or basin hopping graphs : BHG) that convey an approximate but comprehensive picture of the folding kinetics. So far, exact and heuristic coarse-graining methods have been mostly restricted to the pseudoknot-free secondary structures. Pseudoknots, which are common motifs and have been repeatedly hypothesized to play an important role in guiding folding trajectories, were usually excluded.We generalize the BHG framework to include pseudoknotted RNA structures and systematically study the differences in predicted folding behavior depending on whether pseudoknotted structures are allowed to occur as folding intermediates or not. We observe that RNAs with pseudoknotted ground state structures tend to have more pseudoknotted folding intermediates than RNAs with pseudoknot-free ground state structures. The occurrence and influence of pseudoknotted intermediates on the folding pathway, however, appear to depend very strongly on the individual RNAs so that no general rule can be inferred.The algorithms described here are implemented in C++ as standalone programs. Its source code and Supplemental material can be freely downloaded from http://www.tbi.univie.ac.at/bhg.html.qin@bioinf.uni-leipzig.deSupplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

PubMed | The Interdisciplinary Center, Institute for Theoretical Chemistry and Copenhagen University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: RNA (New York, N.Y.) | Year: 2015

A 3D model of RNA structure can provide information about its function and regulation that is not possible with just the sequence or secondary structure. Current models suffer from low accuracy and long running times and either neglect or presume knowledge of the long-range interactions which stabilize the tertiary structure. Our coarse-grained, helix-based, tertiary structure model operates with only a few degrees of freedom compared with all-atom models while preserving the ability to sample tertiary structures given a secondary structure. It strikes a balance between the precision of an all-atom tertiary structure model and the simplicity and effectiveness of a secondary structure representation. It provides a simplified tool for exploring global arrangements of helices and loops within RNA structures. We provide an example of a novel energy function relying only on the positions of stems and loops. We show that coupling our model to this energy function produces predictions as good as or better than the current state of the art tools. We propose that given the wide range of conformational space that needs to be explored, a coarse-grain approach can explore more conformations in less iterations than an all-atom model coupled to a fine-grain energy function. Finally, we emphasize the overarching theme of providing an ensemble of predicted structures, something which our tool excels at, rather than providing a handful of the lowest energy structures.

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