How does RNA fold dynamically?

David Z. Bushhouse, Edric K. Choi, Laura M. Hertz, Julius B. Lucks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent advances in interrogating RNA folding dynamics have shown the classical model of RNA folding to be incomplete. Here, we pose three prominent questions for the field that are at the forefront of our understanding of the importance of RNA folding dynamics for RNA function. The first centers on the most appropriate biophysical framework to describe changes to the RNA folding energy landscape that a growing RNA chain encounters during transcriptional elongation. The second focuses on the potential ubiquity of strand displacement – a process by which RNA can rapidly change conformations – and how this process may be generally present in broad classes of seemingly different RNAs. The third raises questions about the potential importance and roles of cellular protein factors in RNA conformational switching. Answers to these questions will greatly improve our fundamental knowledge of RNA folding and function, drive biotechnological advances that utilize engineered RNAs, and potentially point to new areas of biology yet to be discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167665
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 30 2022


  • conformational switching
  • cotranscriptional RNA folding
  • energy landscapes
  • protein-mediated RNA folding
  • strand displacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


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