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BMC Evol Biol. 2006 Jan 30;6:8.

Stable evolutionary signal in a yeast protein interaction network.

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  • 1Northwestern Institute on Complexity, Chambers Hall, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60202, USA. s-wuchty@northwestern.edu



The recently emerged protein interaction network paradigm can provide novel and important insights into the innerworkings of a cell. Yet, the heavy burden of both false positive and false negative protein-protein interaction data casts doubt on the broader usefulness of these interaction sets. Approaches focusing on one-protein-at-a-time have been powerfully employed to demonstrate the high degree of conservation of proteins participating in numerous interactions; here, we expand his 'node' focused paradigm to investigate the relative persistence of 'link' based evolutionary signals in a protein interaction network of S. cerevisiae and point out the value of this relatively untapped source of information.


The trend for highly connected proteins to be preferably conserved in evolution is stable, even in the context of tremendous noise in the underlying protein interactions as well as in the assignment of orthology among five higher eukaryotes. We find that local clustering around interactions correlates with preferred evolutionary conservation of the participating proteins; furthermore the correlation between high local clustering and evolutionary conservation is accompanied by a stable elevated degree of coexpression of the interacting proteins. We use this conserved interaction data, combined with P. falciparum/Yeast orthologs, as proof-of-principle that high-order network topology can be used comparatively to deduce local network structure in non-model organisms.


High local clustering is a criterion for the reliability of an interaction and coincides with preferred evolutionary conservation and significant coexpression. These strong and stable correlations indicate that evolutionary units go beyond a single protein to include the interactions among them. In particular, the stability of these signals in the face of extreme noise suggests that empirical protein interaction data can be integrated with orthologous clustering around these protein interactions to reliably infer local network structures in non-model organisms.

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