Prediction of RNA-RNA joint structure using their minimum free energy structures
University of New Brunswick
RNA is one of the most important molecules in living organisms. One of its main functions is to regulate gene expression. This involves binding to and forming a joint structure with a messenger RNA. An RNAs functions is determined by its sequence and the structure it folds into. Accordingly, the prediction of individual as well as joint structures is an important area of research. In this thesis a method for the prediction of RNA-RNA joint structure using their minimum free energy (mfe) structures was developed. It is able to extensively explore the joint structural landscape of two interacting RNAs by taking advantage of the locality of changes in the RNAs structures as well as natural and energetic constraints. The method predicts the mfe joint structure as well as alternative stable joint structures while also computing non-optimal folding pathways from the unbound individual mfe structures to the predicted joint structures. It is shown how an enumeration approach is used which is able to deal with the enormous search space as well as to avoid any cyclic behaviour. The method is evaluated using two standard datasets of known interacting RNAs and shows good results.