A combined sequence and structure based method for discovering enriched motifs in RNA from in vivo binding data

Maya Polishchuk, Inbal Paz, Refael Kohen, Rona Mesika, Zohar Yakhini, Yael Mandel-Gutfreund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play an important role in regulating many processes in the cell. RBPs often recognize their RNA targets in a specific manner. In addition to the RNA primary sequence, the structure of the RNA has been shown to play a central role in RNA recognition by RBPs. In recent years, many experimental approaches, both in vitro and in vivo, were developed and employed to identify and characterize RBP targets and extract their binding specificities. In vivo binding techniques, such as CrossLinking and ImmunoPrecipitation (CLIP)-based methods, enable the characterization of protein binding sites on RNA targets. However, these methods do not provide information regarding the structural preferences of the protein. While methods to obtain the structure of RNA are available, inferring both the sequence and the structure preferences of RBPs remains a challenge. Here we present SMARTIV, a novel computational tool for discovering combined sequence and structure binding motifs from in vivo RNA binding data relying on the sequences of the target sites, the ranking of their binding scores and their predicted secondary structure. The combined motifs are provided in a unified representation that is informative and easy for visual perception. We tested the method on CLIP-seq data from different platforms for a variety of RBPs. Overall, we show that our results are highly consistent with known binding motifs of RBPs, offering additional information on their structural preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2017


  • CLIP-seq
  • Computational ranked based approach
  • Motif enrichment
  • RNA binding proteins
  • RNA secondary structure
  • RNA sequence and structure motifs

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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