RNA 3D Modules in Genome-Wide Predictions of RNA 2D Structure

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 28;10(10):e0139900. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139900. eCollection 2015.


Recent experimental and computational progress has revealed a large potential for RNA structure in the genome. This has been driven by computational strategies that exploit multiple genomes of related organisms to identify common sequences and secondary structures. However, these computational approaches have two main challenges: they are computationally expensive and they have a relatively high false discovery rate (FDR). Simultaneously, RNA 3D structure analysis has revealed modules composed of non-canonical base pairs which occur in non-homologous positions, apparently by independent evolution. These modules can, for example, occur inside structural elements which in RNA 2D predictions appear as internal loops. Hence one question is if the use of such RNA 3D information can improve the prediction accuracy of RNA secondary structure at a genome-wide level. Here, we use RNAz in combination with 3D module prediction tools and apply them on a 13-way vertebrate sequence-based alignment. We find that RNA 3D modules predicted by metaRNAmodules and JAR3D are significantly enriched in the screened windows compared to their shuffled counterparts. The initially estimated FDR of 47.0% is lowered to below 25% when certain 3D module predictions are present in the window of the 2D prediction. We discuss the implications and prospects for further development of computational strategies for detection of RNA 2D structure in genomic sequence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Base Pairing
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA / chemistry*


  • RNA