Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 76–83

Estimating the Contributions of Selection and Self-Organization in RNA Secondary Structure

  • Erik A.  Schultes
  • Peter T.  Hraber
  • Thomas H.  LaBean

DOI: 10.1007/PL00006536

Cite this article as:
Schultes, E., Hraber, P. & LaBean, T. J Mol Evol (1999) 49: 76. doi:10.1007/PL00006536


In addition to characteristic structural properties imposed by evolutionary modification, evolved, single-stranded RNAs also display characteristic structural properties imposed by intrinsic physical constraints on RNA polymer folding. The balance of intrinsic and functionally selected characters in the folded conformation of evolved secondary structures was determined by comparing the predicted secondary structures of evolved and unevolved (random) RNA sequences. Though evolved conformations are significantly more ordered than conformations of random-sequence RNA, this analysis demonstrates that the majority of conformational order within evolved structures results not from evolutionary optimization but from constraints imposed by rules intrinsic to RNA polymer folding.

Key words: RNA structure — Morphospace — Phenetics — Intrinsic evolutionary constraints — Extrinsic evolutionary constraints 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik A.  Schultes
    • 1
  • Peter T.  Hraber
    • 3
  • Thomas H.  LaBean
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USAUS
  2. 2.Combinatorial Sciences Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USAUS
  3. 3.Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USAUS
  4. 4.National Center for Genome Resources, 1800 Old Pecos Trail, Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USAUS
  5. 5.Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USAUS

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