Non-covalent Lasso Entanglements in Folded Proteins: Prevalence, Functional Implications, and Evolutionary Significance

Viraj Rana, Ian Sitarik, Justin Petucci, Yang Jiang, Hyebin Song, Edward P. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One-third of protein domains in the CATH database contain a recently discovered tertiary topological motif: non-covalent lasso entanglements, in which a segment of the protein backbone forms a loop closed by non-covalent interactions between residues and is threaded one or more times by the N- or C-terminal backbone segment. Unknown is how frequently this structural motif appears across the proteomes of organisms. And the correlation of these motifs with various classes of protein function and biological processes have not been quantified. Here, using a combination of protein crystal structures, AlphaFold2 predictions, and Gene Ontology terms we show that in E. coli, S. cerevisiae and H. sapiens that 71%, 52% and 49% of globular proteins contain one-or-more non-covalent lasso entanglements in their native fold, and that some of these are highly complex with multiple threading events. Further, proteins containing these tertiary motifs are consistently enriched in certain functions and biological processes across these organisms and depleted in others, strongly indicating an influence of evolutionary selection pressures acting positively and negatively on the distribution of these motifs. Together, these results demonstrate that non-covalent lasso entanglements are widespread and indicate they may be extensively utilized for protein function and subcellular processes, thus impacting phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number168459
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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