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Recent advances in RNA folding

Fallmann, Jörg, Will, Sebastian, Engelhardt, Jan, Grüning, Björn, Backofen, Rolf, Stadler, Peter F.
Journal of biotechnology 2017
Gibbs free energy, RNA, RNA folding, algorithms, bioinformatics, computer software, dynamic programming
In the realm of nucleic acid structures, secondary structure forms a conceptually important intermediate level of description and explains the dominating part of the free energy of structure formation. Secondary structures are well conserved over evolutionary time-scales and for many classes of RNAs evolve slower than the underlying primary sequences. Given the close link between structure and function, secondary structure is routinely used as a basis to explain experimental findings. Recent technological advances, finally, have made it possible to assay secondary structure directly using high throughput methods. From a computational biology point of view, secondary structures have a special role because they can be computed efficiently using exact dynamic programming algorithms.In this contribution we provide a short overview of RNA folding algorithms, recent additions and variations and address methods to align, compare, and cluster RNA structures, followed by a tabular summary of the most important software suites in the fields.