December 16, 2013

Unusual suspects

Computer models plus observations of RNA inside a cell help scientists home in on a short list of interesting RNA ‘machines.’

DNA stores the information of life, proteins provide the action, and in between sits elusive RNA, which serves both as a database of information and as a molecular machine. RNA is more flexible than DNA, and its three-dimensional structures are more complex than proteins. When studied in the laboratory, RNA bends into so many convolutions that it is nearly impossible to tease out which folds are worthy of scientific inquiry and which can safely be ignored.