Entanglements of structure elements revealed in RNA 3D models

Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Sep 27;49(17):9625-9632. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab716.


Computational methods to predict RNA 3D structure have more and more practical applications in molecular biology and medicine. Therefore, it is crucial to intensify efforts to improve the accuracy and quality of predicted three-dimensional structures. A significant role in this is played by the RNA-Puzzles initiative that collects, evaluates, and shares RNAs built computationally within currently nearly 30 challenges. RNA-Puzzles datasets, subjected to multi-criteria analysis, allow revealing the strengths and weaknesses of computer prediction methods. Here, we study the issue of entangled RNA fragments in the predicted RNA 3D structure models. By entanglement, we mean an arrangement of two structural elements such that one of them passes through the other. We propose the classification of entanglements driven by their topology and components. It distinguishes two general classes, interlaces and lassos, and subclasses characterized by element types-loops, dinucleotide steps, open single-stranded fragments-and puncture multiplicity. Our computational pipeline for entanglement detection, applied for 1,017 non-redundant models from RNA-Puzzles, has shown the frequency of different entanglements and allowed identifying 138 structures with intersected assemblies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA / chemistry*


  • RNA