Protein-protein interactions more conserved within species than across species

Sven Mika, Burkhard Rost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Experimental high-throughput studies of protein-protein interactions are beginning to provide enough data for comprehensive computational studies. Today, about ten large data sets, each with thousands of interacting pairs, coarsely sample the interactions in fly, human, worm, and yeast. Another about 55,000 pairs of interacting proteins have been identified by more careful, detailed biochemical experiments. Most interactions are experimentally observed in prokaryotes and simple eukaryotes; very few interactions are observed in higher eukaryotes such as mammals. It is commonly assumed that pathways in mammals can be inferred through homology to model organisms, e.g. the experimental observation that two yeast proteins interact is transferred to infer that the two corresponding proteins in human also interact. Two pairs for which the interaction is conserved are often described as interologs. The goal of this investigation was a large-scale comprehensive analysis of such inferences, i.e. of the evolutionary conservation of interologs. Here, we introduced a novel score for measuring the overlap between protein-protein interaction data sets. This measure appeared to reflect the overall quality of the data and was the basis for our two surprising results from our large-scale analysis. Firstly, homology-based inferences of physical protein-protein interactions appeared far less successful than expected. In fact, such inferences were accurate only for extremely high levels of sequence similarity. Secondly, and most surprisingly, the identification of interacting partners through sequence similarity was significantly more reliable for protein pairs within the same organism than for pairs between species. Our analysis underlined that the discrepancies between different datasets are large, even when using the same type of experiment on the same organism. This reality considerably constrains the power of homology-based transfer of interactions. In particular, the experimental probing of interactions in distant model organisms has to be undertaken with some caution. More comprehensive images of protein-protein networks will require the combination of many high-throughput methods, including in silico inferences and predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-709
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume2
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

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