Authors: Hannah Wilson, Future Science Group
Researchers have created the largest-scale map to date showing direct interactions between proteins encoded by the human genome and dozens of genes predicted to be involved in cancer.
The new human interactome map describes approximately 14,000 direct interactions between proteins. The interactome is the network formed by interactions between proteins and other cellular components, and this new permutation is over four times larger than any previous map of its kind, combining more high-quality interactions than all previous studies together.
The study was carried out by an international research team co-led by Frederick Roth (Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, Canada) and Marc Vidal (Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School [both MA, USA]). The researchers identified protein interactions and utilized computer modeling to focus on proteins interacting with one or more known cancer proteins.
“We show, really for the first time, that cancer proteins are more likely to interconnect with one another than they are to connect to randomly chosen non-cancer proteins,” explained Roth. “Once you see that proteins associated to the same disease are more likely to connect to each other, now you can use this network of interactions as a prediction tool to find new cancer proteins, and the genes they encode.”
Using their predictive method, the researchers observed 60 predicted cancer genes to fit into a known cancer pathway. Such discoveries are crucial to the understanding of cancer development and potential predictors and treatments. The study also revealed the network of protein interactions in humans to cover a much broader range than previously expected.
“How can we ask someone to fix a car with an incomplete list of parts and no guidance on how the parts fit together?” asked Roth; “one major conclusion of the paper is that when you look systematically for interactions, you find them everywhere.”
Sources: Rolland T, Tasan M, Charloteauz B et al. A Proteome-Scale Map of the Human Interactome Network. Cell. 159(5): 1212–1226 (2014); EurekaAlert! press release