In this work, we approach the ab initio tertiary structure prediction problem with a key step to predict nucleotide interactions that constitute the desired tertiary structure. Our work is established on a novel graph model, called k-tree, to constrain nucleotide interaction relationships in RNA tertiary structure. We show that, effectively guided by the k-tree model, a set of nucleotide interactions can be optimally and efficiently predicted from the query sequence. Our work also benefits from recent studies that revealed intrinsic and detailed roles of nucleotide interactions in the tertiary structure, including the fine-grained geometric nomenclatures and rich families of nucleotide interactions. Test results demonstrate that our method can predict with a high accuracy nucleotide interactions that constitute the tertiary structure of the query sequence, rendering a feasible solution toward ab initio prediction of tertiary structures.
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