Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Fun and Games with RNA

How does a Pirate sew his genes? With ArrrrNA.

So without further ado, from Carnegie-Mellon University, and Stanford University,Why RNA | EteRNA.
By playing EteRNA, you will participate in creating the first large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs. Your efforts will help reveal new principles for designing RNA-based switches and nanomachines -- new systems for seeking and eventually controlling living cells and disease-causing viruses. By interacting with thousands of players and learning from real experimental feedback, you will be pioneering a completely new way to do science. Join the global laboratory!
Challenge puzzles ask you to design RNA sequences that fold up into a target shape on your computer, similar to previous scientific discovery games such as Foldit. Many of these puzzles could be solved by existing computer programs. So why are you working on them? Two reasons. First, these puzzles provide a crucial training ground that bridges the gap between the tutorials and the Lab. Second, many existing computer programs take a huge amount of time to solve large RNAs, and you are very likely to find better, faster ways. Consider publishing your solution method, which we can code up as a ‘bot’ and test against existing computer programs.
Just a few minutes play revealed some effective strategies. For example, two strings, GGG and CCC will get together to form GC,GC,GC pairs, but these may get out of alignment, so you get G-, GC, GC, -C. If however you have two strings, GCG and CGC, they pretty much have to form GC,CG,GC. You can use these as "anchors" to force areas with weaker bonds to line up the way you want them.

That's as clear as mud. The best thing to do is have a look at the explanation, then start with the basic tutorial. If you can play Tetris, or Scrabble, you can play this game.

Curtsy to Ryan Radclyffe-Hall, who put me on to this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I rather spend time talking with real people than playing games on the computer.