Journal Article

Modeling the interplay of single-stranded binding proteins and nucleic acid secondary structure

Robert A. Forties and Ralf Bundschuh

in Bioinformatics

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 61-67
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1367-4803
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2059 | DOI:
Modeling the interplay of single-stranded binding proteins and nucleic acid secondary structure

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Motivation: There are many important proteins which bind single-stranded nucleic acids, such as the nucleocapsid protein in HIV and the RecA DNA repair protein in bacteria. The presence of such proteins can strongly alter the secondary structure of the nucleic acid molecules. Therefore, accurate modeling of the interaction between single-stranded nucleic acids and such proteins is essential to fully understand many biological processes.

Results: We develop a model for predicting nucleic acid secondary structure in the presence of single-stranded binding proteins, and implement it as an extension of the Vienna RNA Package. All parameters needed to model nucleic acid secondary structures in the absence of proteins have been previously determined. This leaves the footprint and sequence-dependent binding affinity of the protein as adjustable parameters of our model. Using this model we are able to predict the probability of the protein binding at any position in the nucleic acid sequence, the impact of the protein on nucleic acid base pairing, the end-to-end distance distribution for the nucleic acid and FRET distributions for fluorophores attached to the nucleic acid.

Availability: Source code for our modified version of the Vienna RNA package is freely available at, implemented in C and running on Linux.


Journal Article.  6198 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

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