Costa, Maria Beatriz Walter; Christian Honer zu Siederdissen; Marko Dunjic; Peter F. Stadler and Katja Novick

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in regulating gene expression and are thus important for determining phenotypes. Most attempts to measure selection in lncRNAs have focused on the primary sequence. The majority of small RNAs and at least some parts of lncRNAs must fold into specific structures to perform their biological function. Comprehensive assessments of selection acting on RNAs therefore must also encompass structure. Selection pressures acting on the structure of non-coding genes can be detected within multiple sequence alignments. Approaches of this type, however, have so far focused on negative selection. Thus, a computational method for identifying ncRNAs under positive selection is needed.