SARSA: a web tool for structural alignment of RNA using a structural alphabet. SARSA is a web tool that can be used to align two or more RNA tertiary structures. The basic idea behind SARSA is that we use the vector quantization approach to derive a structural alphabet (SA) of 23 nucleotide conformations, via which we transform RNA 3D structures into 1D sequences of SA letters and then utilize classical sequence alignment methods to compare these 1D SA-encoded sequences and determine their structural similarities. In SARSA, we provide two RNA structural alignment tools, PARTS for pairwise alignment of RNA tertiary structures and MARTS for multiple alignment of RNA tertiary structures. Particularly in PARTS, we have implemented four kinds of pairwise alignments for a variety of practical applications: (i) global alignment for comparing whole structural similarity, (ii) semiglobal alignment for detecting structural motifs, (iii) local alignment for finding locally similar substructures and (iv) normalized local alignment for eliminating the mosaic effect of local alignment. Both tools in SARSA take as input RNA 3D structures in the PDB format and in their outputs provide graphical display that allows the user to visually view, rotate and enlarge the superposition of aligned RNA molecules. SARSA is available online at http://bioalgorithm.life.nctu.edu.tw/SARSA/.
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