A web server for designing molecular switches composed of two interacting RNAs


The programmability of RNA-RNA interactions through intermolecular base-pairing has been successfully exploited to design a variety of RNA devices that artificially regulate gene expression. An in silico design for interacting structured RNA sequences that satisfies multiple design criteria becomes a complex multi-objective problem. Although multi-objective optimization is a powerful technique that explores a vast solution space without empirical weights between design objectives, to date, no web service for multi-objective design of RNA switches that utilizes RNA-RNA interaction has been proposed. We developed a web server, which is based on a multi-objective design algorithm called MODENA, to design two interacting RNAs that form a complex in silico. By predicting the secondary structures with RactIP during the design process, we can design RNAs that form a joint secondary structure with an external pseudoknot. The energy barrier upon the complex formation is modeled by an interaction seed that is optimized in the design algorithm. We benchmarked the RNA switch design approaches (MODENA+RactIP and MODENA+RNAcofold) for the target structures based on natural RNA-RNA interactions. As a result, MODENA+RactIP showed high design performance for the benchmark datasets.

Int. J. Mol. Sci., 22(5):2720