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Finding RNA structure in the unstructured RBPome.
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BACKGROUND RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play vital roles in many processes in the cell. [...] We recently developed RCK, an algorithm to infer sequence and structural binding models from RNAcompete data. The set of binding models enables, for the first time, a large-scale assessment of RNA structure in the RBPome. RESULTS We re-validate and uncover the role of RNA structure in the RPBome through novel analysis of the largest-scale dataset to date. First, we show that RNA structure exists in presumably unstructured RNA probes and that its variability is correlated with RNA-binding. Second, we examine the structural binding preferences of RBPs and discover an overall preference to bind RNA loops. Third, we significantly improve protein-binding prediction using RNA structure, both in vitro and in vivo. Lastly, we demonstrate that RNA structural binding preferences can be inferred for new proteins from solely their amino acid content. CONCLUSIONS By counter-intuitively demonstrating through our analysis that we can predict both the RNA structure of and RBP binding to these putatively unstructured RNAs, we transform a compendium of RNA-binding proteins into a valuable resource for structure-based binding models. We uncover the important role RNA structure plays in protein-RNA interaction for hundreds of RNA-binding proteins.