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R2R - software to speed the depiction of aesthetic consensus RNA secondary structures

Zasha Weinberg12 and Ronald R Breaker123

Author Affiliations

1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University, Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA

2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA

3 Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA

BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-3

Published: 4 January 2011



With continuing identification of novel structured noncoding RNAs, there is an increasing need to create schematic diagrams showing the consensus features of these molecules. RNA structural diagrams are typically made either with general-purpose drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator, or with automated or interactive programs specific to RNA. Unfortunately, the use of applications like Illustrator is extremely time consuming, while existing RNA-specific programs produce figures that are useful, but usually not of the same aesthetic quality as those produced at great cost in Illustrator. Additionally, most existing RNA-specific applications are designed for drawing single RNA molecules, not consensus diagrams.


We created R2R, a computer program that facilitates the generation of aesthetic and readable drawings of RNA consensus diagrams in a fraction of the time required with general-purpose drawing programs. Since the inference of a consensus RNA structure typically requires a multiple-sequence alignment, the R2R user annotates the alignment with commands directing the layout and annotation of the RNA. R2R creates SVG or PDF output that can be imported into Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape or CorelDRAW. R2R can be used to create consensus sequence and secondary structure models for novel RNA structures or to revise models when new representatives for known RNA classes become available. Although R2R does not currently have a graphical user interface, it has proven useful in our efforts to create 100 schematic models of distinct noncoding RNA classes.


R2R makes it possible to obtain high-quality drawings of the consensus sequence and structural models of many diverse RNA structures with a more practical amount of effort. R2R software is available at webcite and as an Additional file.