Nuclear Magnetic Resonance-Assisted Prediction of Secondary Structure for RNA: Incorporation of Direction-Dependent Chemical Shift Constraints

Biochemistry. 2015 Nov 17;54(45):6769-82. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.5b00833. Epub 2015 Nov 3.


Knowledge of RNA structure is necessary to determine structure-function relationships and to facilitate design of potential therapeutics. RNA secondary structure prediction can be improved by applying constraints from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments to a dynamic programming algorithm. Imino proton walks from NOESY spectra reveal double-stranded regions. Chemical shifts of protons in GH1, UH3, and UH5 of GU pairs, UH3, UH5, and AH2 of AU pairs, and GH1 of GC pairs were analyzed to identify constraints for the 5' to 3' directionality of base pairs in helices. The 5' to 3' directionality constraints were incorporated into an NMR-assisted prediction of secondary structure (NAPSS-CS) program. When it was tested on 18 structures, including nine pseudoknots, the sensitivity and positive predictive value were improved relative to those of three unrestrained programs. The prediction accuracy for the pseudoknots improved the most. The program also facilitates assignment of chemical shifts to individual nucleotides, a necessary step for determining three-dimensional structure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / genetics
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Protons
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Protons
  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA