Basin Hopping Graph: a computational framework to characterize RNA folding landscapes

Bioinformatics. 2014 Jul 15;30(14):2009-17. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu156. Epub 2014 Mar 19.


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.

Availability and implementation: The algorithms described here are implemented in C++ as standalone programs. Its source code and supplemental material can be freely downloaded from

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Kinetics
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA Folding*


  • RNA