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LocARNA-P: Accurate boundary prediction and improved detection of structural RNAs

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Online Research Database In Technology
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Abstract

Current genomic screens for noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) predict a large number of genomic regions containing potential structural ncRNAs. The analysis of these data requires highly accurate prediction of ncRNA boundaries and discrimination of promising candidate ncRNAs from weak predictions. Existing methods struggle with these goals because they rely on sequence-based multiple sequence alignments, which regularly misalign RNA structure and therefore do not support identification of structural similarities. To overcome this limitation, we compute columnwise and global reliabilities of alignments based on sequence and structure similarity; we refer to these structure-based alignment reliabilities as STARs. The columnwise STARs of alignments, or STAR profiles, provide a versatile tool for the manual and automatic analysis of ncRNAs. In particular, we improve the boundary prediction of the widely used ncRNA gene finder RNAz by a factor of 3 from a median deviation of 47 to 13 nt. Post-processing RNAz predictions, LocARNA-P's STAR score allows much stronger discrimination between true- and false-positive predictions than RNAz's own evaluation. The improved accuracy, in this scenario increased from AUC 0.71 to AUC 0.87, significantly reduces the cost of successive analysis steps. The ready-to-use software tool LocARNA-P produces structure-based multiple RNA alignments with associated columnwise STARs and predicts ncRNA boundaries. We provide additional results, a web server for LocARNA/LocARNA-P, and the software package, including documentation and a pipeline for refining screens for structural ncRNA, at http://www.bioinf.uni-freiburg.de/Supplements/LocARNA-P/.

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