Like proteins, RNA has four levels of structural organization. The primary structure is the sequence of RNA is the linear order of the nucleotide monomers. As the RNA is synthesized, it forms localized folded structures by base-pairing and stacking interactions that are the result of the interplay between thermodynamics and kinetics. The complexity of the relationship between these two forces results in dynamic structure distributions where multiple forms co-exist (1). Tertiary structure is the overall three-dimensional structure that is the cumulative result of secondary structures. Tertiary structures are also dynamic. Interactions between two or more RNA molecules, such as in the ribosomes and spliceosome, are said to have quaternary structure (2).
- Edited by R. K. Hartman, A. Bindereif, A. Schön, E. Westhof. Handbook of RNA
Biochemistry: Student Edition. Weinheim: WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co, 2009,
- McKee, Trudy. Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Life. 4th ed. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2009. 659.