RNA Secondary Structure Formation: A Solvable Model of Heteropolymer Folding

Phys. Rev. Lett. 83, 1479 – Published 16 August 1999
R. Bundschuh and T. Hwa

Abstract

The statistical mechanics of heteropolymer structure formation is studied in the context of RNA secondary structures. A designed RNA sequence biased energetically towards a particular native structure (a hairpin) is used to study the transition between the native and molten phase of the RNA as a function of temperature. The transition is driven by a competition between the energy gained from the polymer's overlap with the native structure and the entropic gain of forming random contacts. A simplified Go¯-like model is proposed and solved exactly. The predicted critical behavior is verified via exact numerical enumeration of a large ensemble of similarly designed sequences.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.83.1479

  • Received 5 March 1999
  • Published in the issue dated 16 August 1999

© 1999 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

R. Bundschuh and T. Hwa

  • Department of Physics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0319

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