RNA dynamics from experimental and computational approaches
During the past two decades, unique roles of RNA molecules have been discovered and shown to play key roles in various essential biological functions, beyond being the carrier of genetic information. An explosion of research in the field of RNA biology has provided information about RNA diversity with ground-breaking discoveries of novel RNA types, and insight into their structure and function. For example, RNA plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression at the levels of transcription, RNA processing, and translation, in the regulation of epigenetic modifications, and in the protection of the nucleus from foreign nucleic acids . So far largely unexplored long non-coding RNAs are linked to cancer and other human diseases. In conjunction with these discoveries, modulating RNA function is emerging as a promising therapeutic approach against pathologies such as cancer, viral infections, cardiovascular and muscular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. RNA modulation can be achieved using oligonucleotides, i.e. small interfering RNA, antisense oligonucleotides, aptamers, and other RNA moieties, RNA-editing by CRISPR-Cas9, and direct targeting with small molecules [2,3].
As most RNA molecules are highly dynamic, experimental structural studies are challenging  and the sole knowledge of their three-dimensional structure is often insufficient to understand, let alone modulate their functions. Computational techniques based on Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have made enormous progress and can nowadays provide an accurate description of RNA dynamics with atomistic detail . In particular, significant improvements have been made in the parametrization of the physico-chemical models used to drive MD simulations of RNA molecules  and in the advanced-sampling techniques required to exhaustive sample RNA conformational landscapes. On the experimental side, the cryo-EM resolution revolution has enabled determining the structures of RNAs and protein/RNA complexes in different conformational states at an atomistic resolution , while NMR spectroscopy provides precious information about dynamic properties of conformational ensembles of small RNAs [8-10].
Over the last decade, a novel class of methods that incorporate experimental information into molecular simulations has flourished. These integrative approaches use experimental data to either guide or refine a posteriori molecular simulations to determine accurate structural ensembles of biological systems, including RNA molecules . In doing so, integrative methods synergistically use all the available information from statistics, physics, and chemistry, as well as from a variety of different experiments, to overcome the limitations of each individual technique by virtue of data integration. Strong interactions between theoretical and experimental groups are fundamental to further advance these approaches, develop a comprehensive understanding of RNA dynamics, and ultimately create novel opportunities to develop therapeutic approaches targeting RNAs.
The objectives of this workshop are to:
Present an overview of recent advances in the study of RNA dynamics using computational, experimental, and integrative approaches;
Highlight opportunities to target RNA for novel therapeutic approaches;
Discuss open issues and challenges in the field;
Provide opportunities to students and early-career researchers to discuss their projects in a poster session and contributed talks;
Promote networking between students, early-career and more experienced researchers;
Foster collaborations between computational and experimental groups.
Massimiliano Bonomi (Institut Pasteur - CNRS) - Organiser
Paraskevi Gkeka (Sanofi) - Organiser
Michael Sattler (Technical University of Munich) - Organiser
Giovanni Bussi (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati) - Organiser