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Computational Design of RNA Parts, Devices, and Transcripts with Kinetic Folding Algorithms Implemented on Multiprocessor Clusters

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Computational Methods in Synthetic Biology

Part of the book series: Methods in Molecular Biology ((MIMB,volume 1244))


With progress toward inexpensive, large-scale DNA assembly, the demand for simulation tools that allow the rapid construction of synthetic biological devices with predictable behaviors continues to increase. By combining engineered transcript components, such as ribosome binding sites, transcriptional terminators, ligand-binding aptamers, catalytic ribozymes, and aptamer-controlled ribozymes (aptazymes), gene expression in bacteria can be fine-tuned, with many corollaries and applications in yeast and mammalian cells. The successful design of genetic constructs that implement these kinds of RNA-based control mechanisms requires modeling and analyzing kinetically determined co-transcriptional folding pathways. Transcript design methods using stochastic kinetic folding simulations to search spacer sequence libraries for motifs enabling the assembly of RNA component parts into static ribozyme- and dynamic aptazyme-regulated expression devices with quantitatively predictable functions (rREDs and aREDs, respectively) have been described (Carothers et al., Science 334:1716–1719, 2011). Here, we provide a detailed practical procedure for computational transcript design by illustrating a high throughput, multiprocessor approach for evaluating spacer sequences and generating functional rREDs. This chapter is written as a tutorial, complete with pseudo-code and step-by-step instructions for setting up a computational cluster with an Amazon, Inc. web server and performing the large numbers of kinefold-based stochastic kinetic co-transcriptional folding simulations needed to design functional rREDs and aREDs. The method described here should be broadly applicable for designing and analyzing a variety of synthetic RNA parts, devices and transcripts.

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Correspondence to James M. Carothers .

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© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Thimmaiah, T., Voje, W.E., Carothers, J.M. (2015). Computational Design of RNA Parts, Devices, and Transcripts with Kinetic Folding Algorithms Implemented on Multiprocessor Clusters. In: Marchisio, M. (eds) Computational Methods in Synthetic Biology. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1244. Humana Press, New York, NY.

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  • Publisher Name: Humana Press, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4939-1877-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4939-1878-2

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