Communications in Information and Systems

Volume 20 (2020)

Number 1

Scoring functions for protein-RNA complex structure prediction: advances, applications, and future directions

Pages: 1 – 22



Liming Qiu (Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., U.S.A.)

Xiaoqin Zou (Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Dept. of Biochemistry, and Institute for Data Science and Informatics, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., U.S.A.)


Protein-RNA interaction is among the most essential of biological events in living cells, being involved in protein synthesizing, RNA processing and transport, DNA transcription, and regulation of gene expression, and many other critical bio-molecular activities. A thorough understanding of this interaction is of paramount importance in fundamental study of a variety of vital cellular processes and therapeutic application for remedy of a broad range of diseases. Experimental high-resolution 3D structure determination is the primary source of knowledge for protein-RNA complexes. However, due to technical limitations, the existing techniques for experimental structure determination couldn’t match the demand from fast growing interest in academia and industry. This problem necessitates the alternative high-throughput computational method for protein-RNA complex structure prediction. Similar to the in silico methods used for protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions, a reliable prediction of protein-RNA complex structure requires a scoring function with commensurate discriminatory power. Derived from determined structures and purposed to predict the to-be-determined structures, the scoring function is not only a predictive tool but also a gauge of our knowledge of protein-RNA interaction. In this review, we present an overview of the status of existing scoring functions and the scientific principle behind their constructions as well as their strengths and limitations. Finally, we will discuss about future directions of the scoring function development for protein-RNA structure prediction.

This work was supported by NIH R01GM109980 (PI: XZ) to XZ.

Received 4 October 2019

Published 17 April 2020