Protein Knots

Posted on September 22, 2006  Comments (2)

graphic of human ubiquitin hydrolase

Knotty problem puzzles protein researchers by Anne Trafton:

Knots are rare in proteins–less than 1 percent of all proteins have any knots, and most are fairly simple. The researchers analyzed 32,853 proteins, using a computational technique never before applied to proteins at this scale.

Of those that had knots, all were enzymes. Most had a simple three-crossing, or trefoil knot, a few had four crossings, and the most complicated, a five-crossing knot, was initially found in only one protein–ubiquitin hydrolase.

That complex knot may hold some protective value for ubiquitin hydrolase, whose function is to rescue other proteins from being destroyed–a dangerous job.

Photo: MIT researchers recently found that human ubiquitin hydrolase, shown here, has the most complicated knot ever observed in a protein. The simplified diagram, inset, shows the knot in the protein, which crosses itself five times. Larger image.

2 Responses to “Protein Knots”

  1. CuriousCat: New Approach Builds Better Proteins Inside a Computer
    October 17th, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

    “With the aid of more than 150,000 home computer users throughout the world, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have, for the first time, accurately predicted the three-dimensional structure of a small, naturally occurring globular protein using only its amino acid sequence…”

  2. CuriousCat: Mapping the Human Proteome
    June 1st, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

    “Thus even though -with some small exceptions – every cell in your body carries the same genome, the proteome can be wildly different between different tissues and can change rapidly over time…”

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