Skip to Content

RNA Function Elucidation

Research area: 
Bioinformatics & Cheminformatics
It was believed for many years that the only function of RNA is to transfer genetic information to ribosomes where it is translated to proteins. However, it has been revealed recently that ribosomes themselves are formed by RNA molecules having catalytic function. Therefore, RNA is not only a mere transportation medium but it can be involved in many enzymatic processes in living organism. It has also been recently shown that RNA can act as a gene regulator, thus influencing whether given gene will be translated and in what amount. Clearly, deep understanding of the mechanisms behind RNA function can have a great impact on the drug discovery related areas.

The function of an RNA molecule is determined almost entirely by the positions of its atoms. Correlation of structural and functional similarity is used in many applications such as function elucidation. To contribute to the progress in the field, we have developed an algorithm called SETTER. SETTER represents a tool for pairwise comparison of RNA 3D structures. To do so, SETTER employs secondary structure information, i.e., formations created in sequence of nucleic acids formed by hydrogen bonds. With the help of secondary structure information, a 3D superposition is carried out. It follows from the structure-function correlation assumption that by findind similar 3D structures, SETTER can predict function of an unknown RNA structure. Such an prediction can be done by inspecting the 3D superopositions of similar structures provided by SETTER.