Second eigenvalue of the Laplacian matrix for predicting RNA conformational switch by mutation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Motivation: Conformational switching in RNAs is thought to be of fundamental importance in several biological processes, including translational regulation, regulation of self-cleavage in viruses, protein biosynthesis and mRNA splicing. Current methods for detecting bi-stable RNAs that can lead to structural switching when triggered by an outside event rely on kinetics, energetics and properties of the combinatorial structure space of RNAs. Based on these properties, tools have been developed to predict whether a given sequence folds to a structure characterized by a bi-stable conformation, or to design multi-stable RNAs by an iterative algorithm. A useful addition is in developing a local procedure to prescribe, given an initial sequence, the least amount of mutations needed to drive the system into an optimal bi-stable conformation. Results: We introduce a local procedure for predicting mutations, by generating and analyzing eigenvalue tables, that are capable of transforming the wild-type sequence into a bi-stable conformation.The method is independent of the folding algorithms but relies on their success. It can be used in conjunction with existing tools, as well as being incorporated into more general RNA prediction packages. We apply this procedure on three well-studied structures. First, the method is validated on the mutation leading to a conformational switch in the spliced leader RNA from Leptomonas collosoma, a mutation that has already been confirmed by an experiment. Second, the method is used to predict a mutation that can lead to a novel conformational switch in the P5abc subdomain of the group I intron ribozyme in Tetrahymena thermophila. Third, the method is applied on Hepatitis delta virus to predict mutations that transform the wild-type into a bi-stable conformation, a configuration assessed by calculating the free energies using folding prediction algorithms. The predictions in the final examples need to be verified experimentally, whereas the mutation predicted in the first example complies with the experiment. This supports the use of our proposed method on other known structures, as well as genetically engineered ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1861-1869
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - 12 Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Second eigenvalue of the Laplacian matrix for predicting RNA conformational switch by mutation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this