Description: RNA World is a distributed supercomputer that uses Internet-connected computers to advance RNA research. This system is dedicated to identify, analyze, structurally predict and design RNA molecules on the basis of established bioinformatics software in a high-performance, high-throughput fashion.
In contrast to classical bioinformatic approaches, RNA World does not rely on individual desktop computers, web servers or supercomputers. Instead, it represents a continuously evolving cluster of world-wide distributed machines of any type. As such, RNA World is very heterogenous and, depending on the sub-project, currently addresses Internet-connected computers running Linux, Windows and OSX operating systems - your computer could be an important part of it. The fact that hardware and electricity costs are shared among the volunteer contributors raises the possibility of performing interesting analyses which under economical aspects would often not be affordable. In return, RNA World is not for profit, exclusively uses open source code and will make its results available to the public.
Every protein in a cell is produced from a transiently synthesized messenger molecule, termed mRNA. This mRNA is then recognized by a cellular machinery that translates the base sequence of mRNA into its corresponding protein (which is a sequence of amino acids). This protein synthesis machinery, termed ribosome, is actually a ribozyme, i.e. it is a catalytically active assembly of several RNA molecules. Consequently, RNAs do not only serve as messenger molecules or perform structural functions as e.g. in tRNA but may also act as catalysts that perform biochemical reactions as is the case for protein enzymes. Of course, the ribosome also contains numerous proteins as it is a very complex ribonucleoprotein particle but these predominantly serve structural functions, e.g. to give the ribosome its shape.
Fascinatingly, the initial analysis of the human genome sequence revealed that, apparently, only a very small fraction of the DNA of our genome is encoding proteins. Scientists at first thought "what is all this junk DNA about?" or "can't we just delete it?". Today, it has become clear that probably a major fraction of regulatory events taking place in a human cell might be governed by small RNAs, the so-called miRNAs. Among other functions, these appear responsible for making sure that a skin cell becomes a skin cell while a muscle, liver or hair cell differentiates to a muscle, liver or hair cell during development and all this although the genetic material (DNA) of all of these very different cell types is essentially identical. On top of that it seems that many cancer types are accompanied by or even result from a deregulated miRNA profile in the affected cell. Moreover, viruses have been discovered to bring along miRNAs to modify the target cell's regulatory network leading to diseases.
RNA World (beta) currently has the following applications. When you participate in RNA World (beta), work for one or more of these applications will be assigned to your computer. The current version of the application will be downloaded to your computer. This happens automatically; you don't have to doanything.
Microsoft Windows (98 or later) running on an Intel x86-compatible CPU
Microsoft Windows running on an AMD x86_64 or Intel EM64T CPU
Linux running on an Intel x86-compatible CPU
Linux running on an AMD x86_64 or Intel EM64T CPU
Active but is not issuing work units often.
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