Phylogeny and Evolution of RNA Structure

Darwin’s conviction that all living beings on Earth are related and the graph of relatedness is tree-shaped has been essentially confirmed by phylogenetic reconstruction first from morphology and later from data obtained by molecular sequencing. Limitations of the phylogenetic tree concept were recognized as more and more sequence information became available. The other path-breaking idea of Darwin, natural selection of fitter variants in populations, is cast into simple mathematical form and extended to mutation-selection dynamics. In this form the theory is directly applicable to RNA evolution in vitro and to virus evolution. Phylogeny and population dynamics of RNA provide complementary insights into evolution and the interplay between the two concepts will be pursued throughout this chapter. The two strategies for understanding evolution are ultimately related through the central paradigm of structural biology: sequence ⇒ structure ⇒ function. We elaborate on the state of the art in modeling both phylogeny and evolution of RNA driven by reproduction and mutation. Thereby the focus will be laid on models for phylogenetic sequence evolution as well as evolution and design of RNA structures with selected examples and notes on simulation methods. In the perspectives an attempt is made to combine molecular structure, population dynamics, and phylogeny in modeling evolution.
Source: Springer protocols feed by Bioinformatics - Category: Bioinformatics Source Type: news