One of the major challenges with protein template-free modeling is an efficient sampling algorithm that can explore a huge conformation space quickly. The popular fragment assembly method constructs a conformation by stringing together short fragments extracted from the Protein Data Base (PDB). The discrete nature of this method may limit generated conformations to a subspace in which the native fold does not belong. Another worry is that a protein with really new fold may contain some fragments not in the PDB. This article presents a probabilistic model of protein conformational space to overcome the above two limitations. This probabilistic model employs directional statistics to model the distribution of backbone angles and 2nd-order Conditional Random Fields (CRFs) to describe sequence-angle relationship. Using this probabilistic model, we can sample protein conformations in a continuous space, as opposed to the widely used fragment assembly and lattice model methods that work in a discrete space. We show that when coupled with a simple energy function, this probabilistic method compares favorably with the fragment assembly method in the blind CASP8 evaluation, especially on alpha or small beta proteins. To our knowledge, this is the first probabilistic method that can search conformations in a continuous space and achieves favorable performance. Our method also generated three-dimensional (3D) models better than template-based methods for a couple of CASP8 hard targets. The method described in this article can also be applied to protein loop modeling, model refinement, and even RNA tertiary structure prediction.
conditional random fields (CRFs); directional statistics; fragment assembly; lattice model; protein structure prediction; template-free modeling
Despite significant progress in recent years, ab initio folding is still one of the most challenging problems in structural biology. This paper presents a probabilistic graphical model for ab initio folding, which employs Conditional Random Fields (CRFs) and directional statistics to model the relationship between the primary sequence of a protein and its three-dimensional structure. Different from the widely-used fragment assembly method and the lattice model for protein folding, our graphical model can explore protein conformations in a continuous space according to their probability. The probability of a protein conformation reflects its stability and is estimated from PSI-BLAST sequence profile and predicted secondary structure. Experimental results indicate that this new method compares favorably with the fragment assembly method and the lattice model.
protein structure prediction; ab initio folding; conditional random fields (CRFs); directional statistics; fragment assembly; lattice model
Protein structure prediction without using templates (i.e., ab initio folding) is one of the most challenging problems in structural biology. In particular, conformation sampling poses as a major bottleneck of ab initio folding. This article presents CRFSampler, an extensible protein conformation sampler, built on a probabilistic graphical model Conditional Random Fields (CRFs). Using a discriminative learning method, CRFSampler can automatically learn more than ten thousand parameters quantifying the relationship among primary sequence, secondary structure, and (pseudo) backbone angles. Using only compactness and self-avoiding constraints, CRFSampler can efficiently generate protein-like conformations from primary sequence and predicted secondary structure. CRFSampler is also very flexible in that a variety of model topologies and feature sets can be defined to model the sequence-structure relationship without worrying about parameter estimation. Our experimental results demonstrate that using a simple set of features, CRFSampler can generate decoys with much higher quality than the most recent HMM model.
protein conformation sampling; conditional random fields (CRFs); discriminative learning
Motivation: One of the major bottlenecks with ab initio protein folding is an effective conformation sampling algorithm that can generate native-like conformations quickly. The popular fragment assembly method generates conformations by restricting the local conformations of a protein to short structural fragments in the PDB. This method may limit conformations to a subspace to which the native fold does not belong because (i) a protein with really new fold may contain some structural fragments not in the PDB and (ii) the discrete nature of fragments may prevent them from building a native-like fold. Previously we have developed a conditional random fields (CRF) method for fragment-free protein folding that can sample conformations in a continuous space and demonstrated that this CRF method compares favorably to the popular fragment assembly method. However, the CRF method is still limited by its capability of generating conformations compatible with a sequence.
Results: We present a new fragment-free approach to protein folding using a recently invented probabilistic graphical model conditional neural fields (CNF). This new CNF method is much more powerful than CRF in modeling the sophisticated protein sequence-structure relationship and thus, enables us to generate native-like conformations more easily. We show that when coupled with a simple energy function and replica exchange Monte Carlo simulation, our CNF method can generate decoys much better than CRF on a variety of test proteins including the CASP8 free-modeling targets. In particular, our CNF method can predict a correct fold for T0496_D1, one of the two CASP8 targets with truly new fold. Our predicted model for T0496 is significantly better than all the CASP8 models.
The increasing importance of non-coding RNA in biology and medicine has led to a growing interest in the problem of RNA 3-D structure prediction. As is the case for proteins, RNA 3-D structure prediction methods require two key ingredients: an accurate energy function and a conformational sampling procedure. Both are only partly solved problems. Here, we focus on the problem of conformational sampling. The current state of the art solution is based on fragment assembly methods, which construct plausible conformations by stringing together short fragments obtained from experimental structures. However, the discrete nature of the fragments necessitates the use of carefully tuned, unphysical energy functions, and their non-probabilistic nature impairs unbiased sampling. We offer a solution to the sampling problem that removes these important limitations: a probabilistic model of RNA structure that allows efficient sampling of RNA conformations in continuous space, and with associated probabilities. We show that the model captures several key features of RNA structure, such as its rotameric nature and the distribution of the helix lengths. Furthermore, the model readily generates native-like 3-D conformations for 9 out of 10 test structures, solely using coarse-grained base-pairing information. In conclusion, the method provides a theoretical and practical solution for a major bottleneck on the way to routine prediction and simulation of RNA structure and dynamics in atomic detail.
The importance of RNA in biology and medicine has increased immensely over the last several years, due to the discovery of a wide range of important biological processes that are under the guidance of non-coding RNA. As is the case with proteins, the function of an RNA molecule is encoded in its three-dimensional (3-D) structure, which in turn is determined by the molecule's sequence. Therefore, interest in the computational prediction of the 3-D structure of RNA from sequence is great. One of the main bottlenecks in routine prediction and simulation of RNA structure and dynamics is sampling, the efficient generation of RNA-like conformations, ideally in a mathematically and physically sound way. Current methods require the use of unphysical energy functions to amend the shortcomings of the sampling procedure. We have developed a mathematical model that describes RNA's conformational space in atomic detail, without the shortcomings of other sampling methods. As an illustration of its potential, we describe a simple yet efficient method to sample conformations that are compatible with a given secondary structure. An implementation of the sampling method, called BARNACLE, is freely available.
Accurately covering the conformational space of amino acid side chains is essential for important applications such as protein design, docking and high resolution structure prediction. Today, the most common way to capture this conformational space is through rotamer libraries - discrete collections of side chain conformations derived from experimentally determined protein structures. The discretization can be exploited to efficiently search the conformational space. However, discretizing this naturally continuous space comes at the cost of losing detailed information that is crucial for certain applications. For example, rigorously combining rotamers with physical force fields is associated with numerous problems.
In this work we present BASILISK: a generative, probabilistic model of the conformational space of side chains that makes it possible to sample in continuous space. In addition, sampling can be conditional upon the protein's detailed backbone conformation, again in continuous space - without involving discretization.
A careful analysis of the model and a comparison with various rotamer libraries indicates that the model forms an excellent, fully continuous model of side chain conformational space. We also illustrate how the model can be used for rigorous, unbiased sampling with a physical force field, and how it improves side chain prediction when used as a pseudo-energy term. In conclusion, BASILISK is an important step forward on the way to a rigorous probabilistic description of protein structure in continuous space and in atomic detail.
A statistical thermodynamic model is developed for chain molecules with simple RNA tertiary contacts. The model, which accounts for the excluded volume effect and the nonadditivity in the free energy, enables reliable predictions for the conformational entropy and partition function for simple tertiary folds. Illustrative applications are made to conformational transitions involving simple tertiary contacts. The model can predict the interplay between the secondary and the tertiary interactions in the conformational changes. Though the present form of the theory is tested and validated in a two-dimensional lattice model, the methodology, which is developed based on a general graphical representation for chain conformations, is applicable to any off-lattice chain representations. Moreover, the analytical formulation of the method makes possible the systematic development of the theory for more complex tertiary structures.
Motivation: Alignment errors are still the main bottleneck for current template-based protein modeling (TM) methods, including protein threading and homology modeling, especially when the sequence identity between two proteins under consideration is low (<30%).
Results: We present a novel protein threading method, CNFpred, which achieves much more accurate sequence–template alignment by employing a probabilistic graphical model called a Conditional Neural Field (CNF), which aligns one protein sequence to its remote template using a non-linear scoring function. This scoring function accounts for correlation among a variety of protein sequence and structure features, makes use of information in the neighborhood of two residues to be aligned, and is thus much more sensitive than the widely used linear or profile-based scoring function. To train this CNF threading model, we employ a novel quality-sensitive method, instead of the standard maximum-likelihood method, to maximize directly the expected quality of the training set. Experimental results show that CNFpred generates significantly better alignments than the best profile-based and threading methods on several public (but small) benchmarks as well as our own large dataset. CNFpred outperforms others regardless of the lengths or classes of proteins, and works particularly well for proteins with sparse sequence profiles due to the effective utilization of structure information. Our methodology can also be adapted to protein sequence alignment.
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Both the role and the interacting partners of an RNA molecule can change depending on its tertiary structure. Consequently, it is important to be able to accurately predict the complete folding pathway of an RNA molecule. The hepatitis delta virus ribozyme (HDV) is a small catalytic RNA with the greatest number of folding intermediates making it the model of choice with which to address this problem. The tertiary structures of the known putative intermediates along the folding pathway of the HDV ribozyme were predicted using the Macromolecular Conformations Symbolic programming software (MC-Sym). The structures obtained by this method received physical support from Selective 2′-Hydroxyl Acylation analyzed by Primer Extension (SHAPE). The analysis of these structures elucidated several features of the HDV ribozyme. In addition, this report represents a new application for MC-Sym that permits progression one step further towards the computer prediction of an RNA molecule folding pathway.
PMID: 21134640 CAMSID: cams1693
Ribozyme; RNA Structure; RNA folding; bioinformatics; 3D representation
Protein threading is one of the most successful protein structure prediction methods. Most protein threading methods use a scoring function linearly combining sequence and structure features to measure the quality of a sequence-template alignment so that a dynamic programming algorithm can be used to optimize the scoring function. However, a linear scoring function cannot fully exploit interdependency among features and thus, limits alignment accuracy.
This paper presents a nonlinear scoring function for protein threading, which not only can model interactions among different protein features, but also can be efficiently optimized using a dynamic programming algorithm. We achieve this by modeling the threading problem using a probabilistic graphical model Conditional Random Fields (CRF) and training the model using the gradient tree boosting algorithm. The resultant model is a nonlinear scoring function consisting of a collection of regression trees. Each regression tree models a type of nonlinear relationship among sequence and structure features. Experimental results indicate that this new threading model can effectively leverage weak biological signals and improve both alignment accuracy and fold recognition rate greatly.
protein threading; conditional random fields; gradient tree boosting; regression tree; nonlinear scoring function
The ability to discriminate native structures from computer-generated misfolded ones is key to predicting the three-dimensional structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence. Here we describe an assessment of semiempirical methods for discriminating native protein structures from decoy models. The discrimination of decoys entails an analysis of a large number of protein structures, and provides a large-scale validation of quantum mechanical methods and their ability to accurately model proteins. We combine our analysis of semiempirical methods with a comparison of an AMBER force field to discriminate decoys in conjunction with a continuum solvent model. Protein decoys provide a rigorous and reliable benchmark for the evaluation of scoring functions, not only in their ability to accurately identify native structures but also to be computationally tractable to sample a large set of non-native models.
Protein decoys; Semiempirical Quantum Mechanics
Motivation: Order and Disorder prediction using Conditional Random Fields (OnD-CRF) is a new method for accurately predicting the transition between structured and mobile or disordered regions in proteins. OnD-CRF applies CRFs relying on features which are generated from the amino acids sequence and from secondary structure prediction. Benchmarking results based on CASP7 targets, and evaluation with respect to several CASP criteria, rank the OnD-CRF model highest among the fully automatic server group.
Motivation: Whole-genome screens suggest that eukaryotic genomes are dense with non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). We introduce a novel approach to RNA multiple alignment which couples a generative probabilistic model of sequence and structure with an efficient sequence annealing approach for exploring the space of multiple alignments. This leads to a new software program, Stemloc-AMA, that is both accurate and specific in the alignment of multiple related RNA sequences.
Results: When tested on the benchmark datasets BRalibase II and BRalibase 2.1, Stemloc-AMA has comparable sensitivity to and better specificity than the best competing methods. We use a large-scale random sequence experiment to show that while most alignment programs maximize sensitivity at the expense of specificity, even to the point of giving complete alignments of non-homologous sequences, Stemloc-AMA aligns only sequences with detectable homology and leaves unrelated sequences largely unaligned. Such accurate and specific alignments are crucial for comparative-genomics analysis, from inferring phylogeny to estimating substitution rates across different lineages.
Availability: Stemloc-AMA is available from http://biowiki.org/StemLocAMA as part of the dart software package for sequence analysis.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
RNA secondary structure plays a scaffolding role for RNA tertiary conformation. Accurate secondary structure prediction can not only identify double-stranded helices and single stranded-loops but also help provide information for potential tertiary interaction motifs critical to the 3D conformation. The average accuracy in ab initio prediction remains 70%; performance improvement has only been limited to short RNA sequences. The prediction of tertiary interaction motifs is difficult without multiple, related sequences that are usually not available. This paper presents research that aims to improve the secondary structure prediction performance and to develop a capability to predict coaxial stacking between helices. Coaxial stacking positions two helices on the same axis, a tertiary motif present in almost all junctions that account for a high percentage of RNA tertiary structures.
This research identified energetic rules for coaxial stacks and geometric constraints on stack combinations, which were applied to developing an efficient dynamic programming application for simultaneous prediction of secondary structure and coaxial stacking. Results on a number of non-coding RNA data sets, of short and moderately long lengths, show a performance improvement (specially on tRNAs) for secondary structure prediction when compared with existing methods. The program also demonstrates a capability for prediction of coaxial stacking.
The significant leap of performance on tRNAs demonstrated in this work suggests that a breakthrough to a higher performance in RNA secondary structure prediction may lie in understanding contributions from tertiary motifs critical to the structure, as such information can be used to constrain geometrically as well as energetically the space of RNA secondary structure.
Compared with the protein 3-class secondary structure (SS) prediction, the 8-class prediction gains less attention and is also much more challenging, especially for proteins with few sequence homologs. This paper presents a new probabilistic method for 8-class SS prediction using conditional neural fields (CNFs), a recently invented probabilistic graphical model. This CNF method not only models the complex relationship between sequence features and SS, but also exploits the interdependency among SS types of adjacent residues. In addition to sequence profiles, our method also makes use of non-evolutionary information for SS prediction. Tested on the CB513 and RS126 data sets, our method achieves Q8 accuracy of 64.9 and 64.7%, respectively, which are much better than the SSpro8 web server (51.0 and 48.0%, respectively). Our method can also be used to predict other structure properties (e.g. solvent accessibility) of a protein or the SS of RNA.
Bioinformatics; Conditional neural fields; Eight class; Protein; Secondary structure prediction
We introduce three algorithms for learning generative models of molecular structures from molecular dynamics simulations. The first algorithm learns a Bayesian-optimal undirected probabilistic model over user-specified covariates (e.g., fluctuations, distances, angles, etc). L1 reg-ularization is used to ensure sparse models and thus reduce the risk of over-fitting the data. The topology of the resulting model reveals important couplings between different parts of the protein, thus aiding in the analysis of molecular motions. The generative nature of the model makes it well-suited to making predictions about the global effects of local structural changes (e.g., the binding of an allosteric regulator). Additionally, the model can be used to sample new conformations. The second algorithm learns a time-varying graphical model where the topology and parameters change smoothly along the trajectory, revealing the conformational sub-states. The last algorithm learns a Markov Chain over undirected graphical models which can be used to study and simulate kinetics. We demonstrate our algorithms on multiple molecular dynamics trajectories.
The diverse landscape of RNA conformational space includes many canyons and crevices that are distant from the lowest minimum free energy valley and remain unexplored by traditional RNA structure prediction methods. A complete description of the entire RNA folding landscape can facilitate identification of biologically important conformations. The Crumple algorithm rapidly enumerates all possible non-pseudoknotted structures for an RNA sequence without consideration of thermodynamics while filtering the output with experimental data. The Crumple algorithm provides an alternative approach to traditional free energy minimization programs for RNA secondary structure prediction. A complete computation of all non-pseudoknotted secondary structures can reveal structures that would not be predicted by methods that sample the RNA folding landscape based on thermodynamic predictions. The free energy minimization approach is often successful but is limited by not considering RNA tertiary and protein interactions and the possibility that kinetics rather than thermodynamics determines the functional RNA fold. Efficient parallel computing and filters based on experimental data make practical the complete enumeration of all non-pseudoknotted structures. Efficient parallel computing for Crumple is implemented in a ring graph approach. Filters for experimental data include constraints from chemical probing of solvent accessibility, enzymatic cleavage of paired or unpaired nucleotides, phylogenetic covariation, and the minimum number and lengths of helices determined from crystallography or cryo-electron microscopy. The minimum number and length of helices has a significant effect on reducing conformational space. Pairing constraints reduce conformational space more than single nucleotide constraints. Examples with Alfalfa Mosaic Virus RNA and Trypanosome brucei guide RNA demonstrate the importance of evaluating all possible structures when pseduoknots, RNA-protein interactions, and metastable structures are important for biological function. Crumple software is freely available at http://adenosine.chem.ou.edu/software.html.
Chicken, rat and human U1A RNAs in solution, were examined for secondary structure, using several methods including hydrolysis by various nucleases, hybridization to DNA oligomers and analysis of fragment interactions. The experimental results showed that the three U1A RNAs have the same structure, stable over a wide range of pH and ionic conditions. They allowed the selection of one out of several possible models constructed from the data of primary structure. This model is characterized by 4 hairpins and two single-stranded regions, the two hairpins from the 3' part of the molecule bearing very stable stems. In addition, the experimental results showed that in contrast to the 5' half of the molecule, the 3' half has a compact conformation probably stabilized by tertiary interactions. The 5' end of U1A RNA is accessible and free of base-pairing so that it might base-pair with regions of other RNA molecules, for instance, with the extremities of introns as has been recently proposed in a model of splicing.
Riboswitches are a type of noncoding RNA that regulate gene expression by switching from one structural conformation to another on ligand binding. The various classes of riboswitches discovered so far are differentiated by the ligand, which on binding induces a conformational switch. Every class of riboswitch is characterized by an aptamer domain, which provides the site for ligand binding, and an expression platform that undergoes conformational change on ligand binding. The sequence and structure of the aptamer domain is highly conserved in riboswitches belonging to the same class. We propose a method for fast and accurate identification of riboswitches using profile Hidden Markov Models (pHMM). Our method exploits the high degree of sequence conservation that characterizes the aptamer domain.
Our method can detect riboswitches in genomic databases rapidly and accurately. Its sensitivity is comparable to the method based on the Covariance Model (CM). For six out of ten riboswitch classes, our method detects more than 99.5% of the candidates identified by the much slower CM method while being several hundred times faster. For three riboswitch classes, our method detects 97-99% of the candidates relative to the CM method. Our method works very well for those classes of riboswitches that are characterized by distinct and conserved sequence motifs.
Riboswitches play a crucial role in controlling the expression of several prokaryotic genes involved in metabolism and transport processes. As more and more new classes of riboswitches are being discovered, it is important to understand the patterns of their intra and inter genomic distribution. Understanding such patterns will enable us to better understand the evolutionary history of these genetic regulatory elements. However, a complete picture of the distribution pattern of riboswitches will emerge only after accurate identification of riboswitches across genomes. We believe that the riboswitch detection method developed in this paper will aid in that process. The significant advantage in terms of speed, of our pHMM-based approach over the method based on CM allows us to scan entire databases (rather than 5'UTRs only) in a relatively short period of time in order to accurately identify riboswitch candidates.
The reliable prediction of protein tertiary structure from the amino acid sequence remains challenging even for small proteins. We have developed an all-atom free-energy protein forcefield (PFF01) that we could use to fold several small proteins from completely extended conformations. Because the computational cost of de-novo folding studies rises steeply with system size, this approach is unsuitable for structure prediction purposes. We therefore investigate here a low-cost free-energy relaxation protocol for protein structure prediction that combines heuristic methods for model generation with all-atom free-energy relaxation in PFF01.
We use PFF01 to rank and cluster the conformations for 32 proteins generated by ROSETTA. For 22/10 high-quality/low quality decoy sets we select near-native conformations with an average Cα root mean square deviation of 3.03 Å/6.04 Å. The protocol incorporates an inherent reliability indicator that succeeds for 78% of the decoy sets. In over 90% of these cases near-native conformations are selected from the decoy set. This success rate is rationalized by the quality of the decoys and the selectivity of the PFF01 forcefield, which ranks near-native conformations an average 3.06 standard deviations below that of the relaxed decoys (Z-score).
All-atom free-energy relaxation with PFF01 emerges as a powerful low-cost approach toward generic de-novo protein structure prediction. The approach can be applied to large all-atom decoy sets of any origin and requires no preexisting structural information to identify the native conformation. The study provides evidence that a large class of proteins may be foldable by PFF01.
Sequence-specific DNA recognition by gene regulatory proteins is critical for proper cellular functioning. The ability to predict the DNA binding preferences of these regulatory proteins from their amino acid sequence would greatly aid in reconstruction of their regulatory interactions. Structural modeling provides one route to such predictions: by building accurate molecular models of regulatory proteins in complex with candidate binding sites, and estimating their relative binding affinities for these sites using a suitable potential function, it should be possible to construct DNA binding profiles. Here, we present a novel molecular modeling protocol for protein-DNA interfaces that borrows conformational sampling techniques from de novo protein structure prediction to generate a diverse ensemble of structural models from small fragments of related and unrelated protein-DNA complexes. The extensive conformational sampling is coupled with sequence space exploration so that binding preferences for the target protein can be inferred from the resulting optimized DNA sequences. We apply the algorithm to predict binding profiles for a benchmark set of eleven C2H2 zinc finger transcription factors, five of known and six of unknown structure. The predicted profiles are in good agreement with experimental binding data; furthermore, examination of the modeled structures gives insight into observed binding preferences.
Current experiments on structural determination cannot keep up the pace with the steadily emerging RNA sequences and new functions. This underscores the request for an accurate model for RNA three-dimensional (3D) structural prediction. Although considerable progress has been made in mechanistic studies, accurate prediction for RNA tertiary folding from sequence remains an unsolved problem. The first and most important requirement for the prediction of RNA structure from physical principles is an accurate free energy model. A recently developed three-vector virtual bond-based RNA folding model (“Vfold”) has allowed us to compute the chain entropy and predict folding free energies and structures for RNA secondary structures and simple pseudoknots. Here we develop a free energy-based method to predict larger more complex RNA tertiary folds. The approach is based on a multiscaling strategy: from the nucleotide sequence, we predict the two-dimensional (2D) structures (defined by the base pairs and tertiary contacts); based on the 2D structure, we construct a 3D scaffold; with the 3D scaffold as the initial state, we combine AMBER energy minimization and PDB-based fragment search to predict the all-atom structure. A key advantage of the approach is the statistical mechanical calculation for the conformational entropy of RNA structures, including those with cross-linked loops. Benchmark tests show that the model leads to significant improvements in RNA 3D structure prediction.
Energy landscape; RNA folding; Structural prediction; Tertiary structure
The discovery that RNA molecules can fold into complex structures and carry out diverse cellular roles has led to interest in developing tools for modeling RNA tertiary structure. While significant progress has been made in establishing that the RNA backbone is rotameric, few libraries of discrete conformations specifically for use in RNA modeling have been validated. Here, we present six libraries of discrete RNA conformations based on a simplified pseudo-torsional notation of the RNA backbone, comparable to phi and psi in the protein backbone. We evaluate the ability of each library to represent single nucleotide backbone conformations and we show how individual library fragments can be assembled into dinucleotides that are consistent with established RNA backbone descriptors spanning from sugar to sugar. We then use each library to build all-atom models of 20 test folds and we show how the composition of a fragment library can limit model quality. Despite the limitations inherent in using discretized libraries, we find that several hundred discrete fragments can rebuild RNA folds up to 174 nucleotides in length with atomic-level accuracy (<1.5Å RMSD). We anticipate the libraries presented here could easily be incorporated into RNA structural modeling, analysis, or refinement tools.
RNA structure; RNA backbone conformation; RNA fragment library; RNA modeling
Accurately modeling unpaired regions of RNA is important for predicting structure, dynamics, and thermodynamics of folded RNA. Comparisons between NMR data and molecular dynamics simulations provide a test of force fields used for modeling. Here, NMR spectroscopy, including NOESY, 1H–31P HETCOR, DQF-COSY, and TOCSY, was used to determine conformational preferences for single-stranded GACC RNA. The spectra are consistent with a conformational ensemble containing major and minor A-form-like structures. In a series of 50 ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with the AMBER99 force field in explicit solvent, initial A-form-like structures rapidly evolve to disordered conformations. A set of 50 ns simulations with revised χ torsions (AMBER99χ force field) gives two primary conformations, consistent with the NMR spectra. A single 1.9 μs MD simulation with the AMBER99χ force field showed that the major and minor conformations are retained for almost 68% of the time in the first 700 ns, with multiple transformations from A-form to non-A-form conformations. For the rest of the simulation, random-coil structures and a stable non-A-form conformation inconsistent with NMR spectra were seen. Evidently, the AMBER99χ force field improves structural predictions for single-stranded GACC RNA compared to the AMBER99 force field, but further force field improvements are needed.
Interest in predicting protein backbone conformational angles has prompted the development of modeling and inference procedures for bivariate angular distributions. We present a Bayesian approach to density estimation for bivariate angular data that uses a Dirichlet process mixture model and a bivariate von Mises distribution. We derive the necessary full conditional distributions to fit the model, as well as the details for sampling from the posterior predictive distribution. We show how our density estimation method makes it possible to improve current approaches for protein structure prediction by comparing the performance of the so-called “whole” and “half” position distributions. Current methods in the field are based on whole position distributions, as density estimation for the half positions requires techniques, such as ours, that can provide good estimates for small datasets. With our method we are able to demonstrate that half position data provides a better approximation for the distribution of conformational angles at a given sequence position, therefore providing increased efficiency and accuracy in structure prediction.
Angular data; Density estimation; Dirichlet process mixture model; Torsion angles; von Mises distribution