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RNA folding pathways and kinetics using 2D energy landscapes

RNA folding pathways and kinetics using 2D energy landscapes

Journal of Mathematical Biology 70(1-2): 173-196

RNA folding pathways play an important role in various biological processes, such as (i) the hok/sok (host-killing/suppression of killing) system in E. coli to check for sufficient plasmid copy number, (ii) the conformational switch in spliced leader (SL) RNA from Leptomonas collosoma, which controls trans splicing of a portion of the '5 exon, and (iii) riboswitches--portions of the 5' untranslated region of messenger RNA that regulate genes by allostery. Since RNA folding pathways are determined by the energy landscape, we describe a novel algorithm, FFTbor2D, which computes the 2D projection of the energy landscape for a given RNA sequence. Given two metastable secondary structures A, B for a given RNA sequence, FFTbor2D computes the Boltzmann probability p(x, y) = Z(x,y)/Z that a secondary structure has base pair distance x from A and distance y from B. Using polynomial interpolationwith the fast Fourier transform,we compute p(x, y) in O(n(5)) time and O(n(2)) space, which is an improvement over an earlier method, which runs in O(n(7)) time and O(n(4)) space. FFTbor2D has potential applications in synthetic biology, where one might wish to design bistable switches having target metastable structures A, B with favorable pathway kinetics. By inverting the transition probability matrix determined from FFTbor2D output, we show that L. collosoma spliced leader RNA has larger mean first passage time from A to B on the 2D energy landscape, than 97.145% of 20,000 sequences, each having metastable structures A, B. Source code and binaries are freely available for download at http://bioinformatics.bc.edu/clotelab/FFTbor2D. The program FFTbor2D is implemented in C++, with optional OpenMP parallelization primitives.

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Accession: 055336220

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PMID: 24515409

DOI: 10.1007/s00285-014-0760-4

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