A new entropy model for RNA: part II. Persistence-related entropic contributions to RNA secondary structure free energy calculations

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Wayne Dawson *
Kenji Yamamoto
Kentaro Shimizu
Gota Kawai
(*) Corresponding Author:
Wayne Dawson | dawson@bi.a.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Abstract

In previous work, we have shown that the entropy of a folded RNA molecule can be divided into local and global contributions using the cross-linking entropy (CLE) model, where, in the case of RNA, the cross- links are the base-pair stacking interactions. The local contribution to the CLE is revealed in the Kuhn length (a measure of the stiffness of the RNA). The Kuhn length acts as a scaling parameter. When the size of the system is rescaled, the relationship between local and global free energy must be renormalized to reflect this rescaling. In this renormalization process, the Kuhn length increases, the local entropy also increases due to freezing out of the local conformational degrees of freedom. At the same time, as the number of degrees of freedom decrease, there is a significant reduction in the global entropy. Here we present a method, based on the concepts of renormalization theory, to quantitatively estimate the size of the contribution from the local entropy as a function of the Kuhn length. The local entropy correction is used to predict the current empirically derived constant in the Jacobson-Stockmayer equation. The variation in the Kuhn length is shown to be largely influenced by the length of the double-stranded RNA stems formed in the secondary structure of folded RNA. This result is used to test the resulting entropy under a variable Kuhn length in stem-loop structures. Comparisons between a variable Kuhn length and a static Kuhn length on a short stem-loop of RNA are also examined. The model is quite general and is also directly applicable to protein structure and folding problems.

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