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Computer Sleuthing Helps ­nravel Rna's Role in Cellular Function


Shaojie Zhang

University of Central Florida professor Shaojie Zhang has discovered many new RNA structural motifs with a new computational program.

Credit: University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida (UCF) computer engineers used a computer program to analyze the subunits that make up ribonucleic acid (RNA).

"We have discovered many new RNA structural motifs using our new computational method," says UCF professor Shaojie Zhang. He and his team were able to view RNA motifs, which vary in structure and fold like an accordion, in a three-dimensional scale.

The UCF program can quickly process many RNA samples and discover units that are distinct and form patterns, and this information can provide medical researchers with clues about their function.

Researchers do not know much about RNA, a building block of life, along with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and proteins, but the computational method could provide the medical community with a new way to discover its forms and functions.

Zhang says a better understanding of RNA, DNA, and proteins should aid researchers in their effort to discover the causes of diseases and find ways to treat them. "It's another tool to help unravel the mystery of how biology works and why it sometimes goes wrong, resulting in some fatal disease," he says.

From University of Central Florida
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