Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Bioinformatics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Design, implementation and evaluation of a practical pseudoknot folding algorithm based on thermodynamics

Jens Reeder and Robert Giegerich*

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Technology, Bielefeld University, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-104

Published: 4 August 2004

Abstract

Background

The general problem of RNA secondary structure prediction under the widely used thermodynamic model is known to be NP-complete when the structures considered include arbitrary pseudoknots. For restricted classes of pseudoknots, several polynomial time algorithms have been designed, where the O(n6)time and O(n4) space algorithm by Rivas and Eddy is currently the best available program.

Results

We introduce the class of canonical simple recursive pseudoknots and present an algorithm that requires O(n4) time and O(n2) space to predict the energetically optimal structure of an RNA sequence, possible containing such pseudoknots. Evaluation against a large collection of known pseudoknotted structures shows the adequacy of the canonization approach and our algorithm.

Conclusions

RNA pseudoknots of medium size can now be predicted reliably as well as efficiently by the new algorithm.