Flexible RNA design under structure and sequence constraints using formal languages [article]

Yu Zhou , Stéphane Vialette, Jérôme Waldispühl, Yi Zhang, Alain Denise
2013 arXiv   pre-print
The problem of RNA secondary structure design (also called inverse folding) is the following: given a target secondary structure, one aims to create a sequence that folds into, or is compatible with, a given structure. In several practical applications in biology, additional constraints must be taken into account, such as the presence/absence of regulatory motifs, either at a specific location or anywhere in the sequence. In this study, we investigate the design of RNA sequences from their
more » ... ted secondary structure, given these additional sequence constraints. To this purpose, we develop a general framework based on concepts of language theory, namely context-free grammars and finite automata. We efficiently combine a comprehensive set of constraints into a unifying context-free grammar of moderate size. From there, we use generic generic algorithms to perform a (weighted) random generation, or an exhaustive enumeration, of candidate sequences. The resulting method, whose complexity scales linearly with the length of the RNA, was implemented as a standalone program. The resulting software was embedded into a publicly available dedicated web server. The applicability demonstrated of the method on a concrete case study dedicated to Exon Splicing Enhancers, in which our approach was successfully used in the design of in vitro experiments.
arXiv:1305.3830v2 fatcat:awgsrpl4ird3xhlhquoqjuqtqa