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Life 2015, 5(3), 1497-1517;

Fitness Landscapes of Functional RNAs

1,2,3,* and 1,3,4
Parmenides Center for the Conceptual Foundations of Science, Kirchplatz 1, 82049 Munich/Pullach, Germany
MTA-ELTE-MTMT Ecology Research Group, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
Department of Plant Systematics, Ecology and Theoretical Biology, Institute of Biology, Eötvös University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
MTA-ELTE Theoretical Biology and Evolutionary Ecology Research Group, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Niles Lehman
Received: 25 May 2015 / Revised: 26 July 2015 / Accepted: 3 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Origins and Early Evolution of RNA)
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The notion of fitness landscapes, a map between genotype and fitness, was proposed more than 80 years ago. For most of this time data was only available for a few alleles, and thus we had only a restricted view of the whole fitness landscape. Recently, advances in genetics and molecular biology allow a more detailed view of them. Here we review experimental and theoretical studies of fitness landscapes of functional RNAs, especially aptamers and ribozymes. We find that RNA structures can be divided into critical structures, connecting structures, neutral structures and forbidden structures. Such characterisation, coupled with theoretical sequence-to-structure predictions, allows us to construct the whole fitness landscape. Fitness landscapes then can be used to study evolution, and in our case the development of the RNA world. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; ribozyme; aptamer; RNA; fitness landscape origin of life; ribozyme; aptamer; RNA; fitness landscape

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kun, Á.; Szathmáry, E. Fitness Landscapes of Functional RNAs. Life 2015, 5, 1497-1517.

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