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Discovering the structure of RNA

A new study develops an innovative simulation model

It is the less known member of the nucleic acid family, superseded in popularity by its cousin DNA. And yet RNA, or ribonucleic acid, plays an essential role in many biological processes: not only as messenger molecule with the task of transmitting genetic information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm for protein production, but also as protagonist of different and significantly important cellular mechanisms. In many of these, its structure plays a crucial role. Structure is different and characteristic for each RNA depending on the sequence of specific units, known as nucleotides, which compose it like the links of a chain. A research team at SISSA, led by Professor Giovanni Bussi, has developed a computerised simulation model which can effectively predict the three-dimensional conformation of the RNA filament starting from a sequence of nucleotides. The lead author of the study, just published in the journal "Nucleic Acids Research", is SISSA researcher Simón Poblete. The work promises to have a significant impact in the research and application field.

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