Fluorescence competition and optical melting measurements of RNA three-way multibranch loops provide a revised model for thermodynamic parameters

Biochemistry. 2011 Feb 8;50(5):640-53. doi: 10.1021/bi101470n. Epub 2011 Jan 14.


Three-way multibranch loops (junctions) are common in RNA secondary structures. Computer algorithms such as RNAstructure and MFOLD do not consider the identity of unpaired nucleotides in multibranch loops when predicting secondary structure. There is limited experimental data, however, to parametrize this aspect of these algorithms. In this study, UV optical melting and a fluorescence competition assay are used to measure stabilities of multibranch loops containing up to five unpaired adenosines or uridines or a loop E motif. These results provide a test of our understanding of the factors affecting multibranch loop stability and provide revised parameters for predicting stability. The results should help to improve predictions of RNA secondary structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA Stability
  • Thermodynamics*
  • Transition Temperature


  • RNA