Background: RNA folding depends on the distribution of kinetic traps in the landscape of all secondary structures. Kinetic traps in the Nussinov energy model are precisely those secondary structures that are saturated, meaning that no base pair can be added without introducing either a pseudoknot or base triple. In previous work, we investigated asymptotic combinatorics of both random saturated structures and of quasi-random saturated structures, where the latter are constructed by a natural stochastic process.Results: We prove that for quasi-random saturated structures with the uniform distribution, the asymptotic expected number of external loops is O(logn) and the asymptotic expected maximum stem length is O(logn), while under the Zipf distribution, the asymptotic expected number of external loops is O(log2n) and the asymptotic expected maximum stem length is O(logn/log logn).Conclusions: Quasi-random saturated structures are generated by a stochastic greedy method, which is simple to implement. Structural features of random saturated structures appear to resemble those of quasi-random saturated structures, and the latter appear to constitute a class for which both the generation of sampled structures as well as a combinatorial investigation of structural features may be simpler to undertake.

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Keywords combinatorial analysis, Kinetic trap, RNA secondary structure, Zipf distribution
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1186/1748-7188-8-24
Journal Algorithms for Molecular Biology
Citation
Clote, P. (Peter), Kranakis, E, & Krizanc, D. (Danny). (2013). Asymptotic structural properties of quasi-random saturated structures of RNA. Algorithms for Molecular Biology, 8(1). doi:10.1186/1748-7188-8-24