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1.  antaRNA – Multi-objective inverse folding of pseudoknot RNA using ant-colony optimization 
BMC Bioinformatics  2015;16:389.
Many functional RNA molecules fold into pseudoknot structures, which are often essential for the formation of an RNA’s 3D structure. Currently the design of RNA molecules, which fold into a specific structure (known as RNA inverse folding) within biotechnological applications, is lacking the feature of incorporating pseudoknot structures into the design. Hairpin-(H)- and kissing hairpin-(K)-type pseudoknots cover a wide range of biologically functional pseudoknots and can be represented on a secondary structure level.
The RNA inverse folding program antaRNA, which takes secondary structure, target GC-content and sequence constraints as input, is extended to provide solutions for such H- and K-type pseudoknotted secondary structure constraint.
We demonstrate the easy and flexible interchangeability of modules within the antaRNA framework by incorporating pKiss as structure prediction tool capable of predicting the mentioned pseudoknot types. The performance of the approach is demonstrated on a subset of the Pseudobase ++ dataset.
This new service is available via a standalone version and is also part of the Freiburg RNA Tools webservice. Furthermore, antaRNA is available in Galaxy and is part of the RNA-workbench Docker image.
PMCID: PMC4652366  PMID: 26581440
Pseudoknot RNA; Inverse folding RNA; RNAdesign; Synthetic biology; Biotechnology
2.  antaRNA: ant colony-based RNA sequence design 
Bioinformatics  2015;31(19):3114-3121.
Motivation: RNA sequence design is studied at least as long as the classical folding problem. Although for the latter the functional fold of an RNA molecule is to be found, inverse folding tries to identify RNA sequences that fold into a function-specific target structure. In combination with RNA-based biotechnology and synthetic biology, reliable RNA sequence design becomes a crucial step to generate novel biochemical components.
Results: In this article, the computational tool antaRNA is presented. It is capable of compiling RNA sequences for a given structure that comply in addition with an adjustable full range objective GC-content distribution, specific sequence constraints and additional fuzzy structure constraints. antaRNA applies ant colony optimization meta-heuristics and its superior performance is shown on a biological datasets.
Availability and implementation:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4576691  PMID: 26023105
3.  Atom mapping with constraint programming 
Chemical reactions are rearrangements of chemical bonds. Each atom in an educt molecule thus appears again in a specific position of one of the reaction products. This bijection between educt and product atoms is not reported by chemical reaction databases, however, so that the “Atom Mapping Problem” of finding this bijection is left as an important computational task for many practical applications in computational chemistry and systems biology. Elementary chemical reactions feature a cyclic imaginary transition state (ITS) that imposes additional restrictions on the bijection between educt and product atoms that are not taken into account by previous approaches. We demonstrate that Constraint Programming is well-suited to solving the Atom Mapping Problem in this setting. The performance of our approach is evaluated for a manually curated subset of chemical reactions from the KEGG database featuring various ITS cycle layouts and reaction mechanisms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13015-014-0023-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256833  PMID: 25484913
Atom-atom mapping; Constraint programming; Chemical reaction; Imaginary transition state
4.  MoDPepInt: an interactive web server for prediction of modular domain–peptide interactions 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(18):2668-2669.
Summary: MoDPepInt (Modular Domain Peptide Interaction) is a new easy-to-use web server for the prediction of binding partners for modular protein domains. Currently, we offer models for SH2, SH3 and PDZ domains via the tools SH2PepInt, SH3PepInt and PDZPepInt, respectively. More specifically, our server offers predictions for 51 SH2 human domains and 69 SH3 human domains via single domain models, and predictions for 226 PDZ domains across several species, via 43 multidomain models. All models are based on support vector machines with different kernel functions ranging from polynomial, to Gaussian, to advanced graph kernels. In this way, we model non-linear interactions between amino acid residues. Results were validated on manually curated datasets achieving competitive performance against various state-of-the-art approaches.
Availability and implementation: The MoDPepInt server is available under the URL
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4155253  PMID: 24872426
5.  CopraRNA and IntaRNA: predicting small RNA targets, networks and interaction domains 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(Web Server issue):W119-W123.
CopraRNA (Comparative prediction algorithm for small RNA targets) is the most recent asset to the Freiburg RNA Tools webserver. It incorporates and extends the functionality of the existing tool IntaRNA (Interacting RNAs) in order to predict targets, interaction domains and consequently the regulatory networks of bacterial small RNA molecules. The CopraRNA prediction results are accompanied by extensive postprocessing methods such as functional enrichment analysis and visualization of interacting regions. Here, we introduce the functionality of the CopraRNA and IntaRNA webservers and give detailed explanations on their postprocessing functionalities. Both tools are freely accessible at
PMCID: PMC4086077  PMID: 24838564
6.  Memory-efficient RNA energy landscape exploration 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(18):2584-2591.
Motivation: Energy landscapes provide a valuable means for studying the folding dynamics of short RNA molecules in detail by modeling all possible structures and their transitions. Higher abstraction levels based on a macro-state decomposition of the landscape enable the study of larger systems; however, they are still restricted by huge memory requirements of exact approaches.
Results: We present a highly parallelizable local enumeration scheme that enables the computation of exact macro-state transition models with highly reduced memory requirements. The approach is evaluated on RNA secondary structure landscapes using a gradient basin definition for macro-states. Furthermore, we demonstrate the need for exact transition models by comparing two barrier-based approaches, and perform a detailed investigation of gradient basins in RNA energy landscapes.
Availability and implementation: Source code is part of the C++ Energy Landscape Library available at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4155248  PMID: 24833804
7.  Producing High-Accuracy Lattice Models from Protein Atomic Coordinates Including Side Chains 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2012;2012:148045.
Lattice models are a common abstraction used in the study of protein structure, folding, and refinement. They are advantageous because the discretisation of space can make extensive protein evaluations computationally feasible. Various approaches to the protein chain lattice fitting problem have been suggested but only a single backbone-only tool is available currently. We introduce LatFit, a new tool to produce high-accuracy lattice protein models. It generates both backbone-only and backbone-side-chain models in any user defined lattice. LatFit implements a new distance RMSD-optimisation fitting procedure in addition to the known coordinate RMSD method. We tested LatFit's accuracy and speed using a large nonredundant set of high resolution proteins (SCOP database) on three commonly used lattices: 3D cubic, face-centred cubic, and knight's walk. Fitting speed compared favourably to other methods and both backbone-only and backbone-side-chain models show low deviation from the original data (~1.5 Å RMSD in the FCC lattice). To our knowledge this represents the first comprehensive study of lattice quality for on-lattice protein models including side chains while LatFit is the only available tool for such models.
PMCID: PMC3426164  PMID: 22934109
8.  CARNA—alignment of RNA structure ensembles 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(Web Server issue):W49-W53.
Due to recent algorithmic progress, tools for the gold standard of comparative RNA analysis, namely Sankoff-style simultaneous alignment and folding, are now readily applicable. Such approaches, however, compare RNAs with respect to a simultaneously predicted, single, nested consensus structure. To make multiple alignment of RNAs available in cases, where this limitation of the standard approach is critical, we introduce a web server that provides a complete and convenient interface to the RNA structure alignment tool ‘CARNA’. This tool uniquely supports RNAs with multiple conserved structures per RNA and aligns pseudoknots intrinsically; these features are highly desirable for aligning riboswitches, RNAs with conserved folding pathways, or pseudoknots. We represent structural input and output information as base pair probability dot plots; this provides large flexibility in the input, ranging from fixed structures to structure ensembles, and enables immediate visual analysis of the results. In contrast to conventional Sankoff-style approaches, ‘CARNA’ optimizes all structural similarities in the input simultaneously, for example across an entire RNA structure ensemble. Even compared with already costly Sankoff-style alignment, ‘CARNA’ solves an intrinsically much harder problem by applying advanced, constraint-based, algorithmic techniques. Although ‘CARNA’ is specialized to the alignment of RNAs with several conserved structures, its performance on RNAs in general is on par with state-of-the-art general-purpose RNA alignment tools, as we show in a Bralibase 2.1 benchmark. The web server is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3394245  PMID: 22689637
9.  Classifying proteinlike sequences in arbitrary lattice protein models using LatPack 
HFSP Journal  2008;2(6):396-404.
Knowledge of a protein’s three-dimensional native structure is vital in determining its chemical properties and functionality. However, experimental methods to determine structure are very costly and time-consuming. Computational approaches such as folding simulations and structure prediction algorithms are quicker and cheaper but lack consistent accuracy. This currently restricts extensive computational studies to abstract protein models. It is thus essential that simplifications induced by the models do not negate scientific value. Key to this is the use of thoroughly defined proteinlike sequences. In such cases abstract models can allow for the investigation of important biological questions. Here, we present a procedure to generate and classify proteinlike sequence data sets. Our LatPack tools and the approach in general are applicable to arbitrary lattice protein models. Identification is based on thermodynamic kinetic features and incorporates the sequential assembly of proteins by addressing cotranslational folding. We demonstrate the approach in the widely used unrestricted 3D-cubic HP-model. The resulting sequence set is the first large data set for this model exhibiting the proteinlike properties required. Our data tools are freely available and can be used to investigate protein-related problems.
PMCID: PMC2645588  PMID: 19436498
10.  CPSP-web-tools: a server for 3D lattice protein studies 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(5):676-677.
Summary: Studies on proteins are often restricted to highly simplified models to face the immense computational complexity of the associated problems. Constraint-based protein structure prediction (CPSP) tools is a package of very fast algorithms for ab initio optimal structure prediction and related problems in 3D HP-models [cubic and face centered cubic (FCC)]. Here, we present CPSP-web-tools, an interactive online interface of these programs for their immediate use. They include the first method for the direct prediction of optimal energies and structures in 3D HP side-chain models. This newest extension of the CPSP approach is described here for the first time.
Availability and Implementation: Free access at
PMCID: PMC2647832  PMID: 19151096
11.  CPSP-tools – Exact and complete algorithms for high-throughput 3D lattice protein studies 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:230.
The principles of protein folding and evolution pose problems of very high inherent complexity. Often these problems are tackled using simplified protein models, e.g. lattice proteins. The CPSP-tools package provides programs to solve exactly and completely the problems typical of studies using 3D lattice protein models. Among the tasks addressed are the prediction of (all) globally optimal and/or suboptimal structures as well as sequence design and neutral network exploration.
In contrast to stochastic approaches, which are not capable of answering many fundamental questions, our methods are based on fast, non-heuristic techniques. The resulting tools are designed for high-throughput studies of 3D-lattice proteins utilising the Hydrophobic-Polar (HP) model. The source bundle is freely available [1].
The CPSP-tools package is the first set of exact and complete methods for extensive, high-throughput studies of non-restricted 3D-lattice protein models. In particular, our package deals with cubic and face centered cubic (FCC) lattices.
PMCID: PMC2396640  PMID: 18462492

Results 1-11 (11)