Compact intermediates in RNA folding

Sarah A. Woodson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Large noncoding RNAs fold into their biologically functional structures via compact yet disordered intermediates, which couple the stable secondary structure of the RNA with the emerging tertiary fold. The specificity of the collapse transition, which coincides with the assembly of helical domains, depends on RNA sequence and counterions. It determines the specificity of the folding pathways and the magnitude of the free energy barriers to the ensuing search for the native conformation. By coupling helix assembly with nascent tertiary interactions, compact folding intermediates in RNA also play a crucial role in ligand binding and RNA-protein recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 9 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Collapse transition
  • Energy landscape
  • Hydroxyl radical footprinting
  • Ribozyme
  • SAXS
  • Single-molecule FRET

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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