RNA secondary structure modeling at consistent high accuracy using differential SHAPE

RNA. 2014 Jun;20(6):846-54. doi: 10.1261/rna.043323.113. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


RNA secondary structure modeling is a challenging problem, and recent successes have raised the standards for accuracy, consistency, and tractability. Large increases in accuracy have been achieved by including data on reactivity toward chemical probes: Incorporation of 1M7 SHAPE reactivity data into an mfold-class algorithm results in median accuracies for base pair prediction that exceed 90%. However, a few RNA structures are modeled with significantly lower accuracy. Here, we show that incorporating differential reactivities from the NMIA and 1M6 reagents--which detect noncanonical and tertiary interactions--into prediction algorithms results in highly accurate secondary structure models for RNAs that were previously shown to be difficult to model. For these RNAs, 93% of accepted canonical base pairs were recovered in SHAPE-directed models. Discrepancies between accepted and modeled structures were small and appear to reflect genuine structural differences. Three-reagent SHAPE-directed modeling scales concisely to structurally complex RNAs to resolve the in-solution secondary structure analysis problem for many classes of RNA.

Keywords: accuracy; pseudoknot; sensitivity; thermodynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Base Pairing / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA / chemistry*


  • RNA