Identification and characterization of E.coli ribosomal binding sites by free energy computation

Tamar Schurr, Eyal Nadir, Hanah Margalit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Sequences upstream from translational initiation sites of different E.coli genes show various degrees of complementarity to the Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence at the 3' end of the 16S rRNA. We propose a quantitative measure for the SD region on the mRNA, that reflects its degree of complementarity to the rRNA. This measure is based on the stability of the rRNA-mRNA duplex as established by free energy computations. The free energy calculations are based on the same principles that are used for folding a single RNA molecule, and are executed by similar algorithms. Bulges and internal loops in the rRNA and mRNA are allowed. The mRNA string with maximum free energy gain upon binding to the rRNA Is selected as the most favorable SD sequence of a gene. The free energy value that represents the SD region provides a quantitative measure that can be used for comparing SD sequences of different genes. The distribution of this measure in more than 1000 E.coli genes is presented and discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4019-4023
Number of pages5
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - 25 Aug 1993


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