Journal Article

MicroRNA Precursors Are Not Structurally Robust but Plastic

Guillermo Rodrigo and Santiago F. Elena

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 5, issue 1, pages 181-186
Published in print January 2013 |
Published online December 2012 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evs132

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Robustness is considered a ubiquitous property of living systems at all levels of organization, and small noncoding RNA (sncRNA) is a genuine model for its study at the molecular level. In this communication, we question whether microRNA precursors (pre-miRNAs) are actually structurally robust, as previously suggested. We found that natural pre-miRNAs are not more robust than expected under an appropriate null model. On the contrary, we found that eukaryotic pre-miRNAs show a significant enrichment in conformational flexibility at the thermal equilibrium of the molecule, that is, in their plasticity. Our results further support the selection for functional diversification and evolvability in sncRNAs.

Keywords: conformational flexibility; evolvability; noncoding RNA; secondary structure; thermodynamics

Journal Article.  3408 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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