Kink turns are widely occurring motifs in RNA, located in internal loops and associated with many biological functions including translation, regulation and splicing. The associated sequence pattern, a 3-nt bulge and G-A, A-G base-pairs, generates an angle of 50 along the helical axis due to Aminor interactions. The conserved sequence and distinct secondary structures of kink-turns (k-turn) suggest computational folding rules to predict kturn- like topologies from sequence. Here, we annotate observed k-turn motifs within a non-redundant RNA dataset based on sequence signatures and geometrical features, analyze bending and torsion angles, and determine distinct knowledge-based potentials with and without k-turn motifs. We apply these scoring potentials to our RAGTOP (RNA-As-Graph- Topologies) graph sampling protocol to construct and sample coarse-grained graph representations of RNAs from a given secondary structure. We present graph-sampling results for 35 RNAs, including 12 k-turn and 23 non k-turn internal loops, and compare the results to solved structures and to RAGTOP results without special k-turn potentials. Significant improvements are observed with the updated scoring potentials compared to the k-turn-free potentials. Because k-turns represent a classic example of sequence/structure motif, our study suggests that other such motifs with sequence signatures and unique geometrical features can similarly be utilized for RNA structure prediction and design.
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