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Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Jul;23(7):839-44.

Effect of sampling on topology predictions of protein-protein interaction networks.

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Center for Cancer Systems Biology and Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Currently available protein-protein interaction (PPI) network or 'interactome' maps, obtained with the yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) assay or by co-affinity purification followed by mass spectrometry (co-AP/MS), only cover a fraction of the complete PPI networks. These partial networks display scale-free topologies--most proteins participate in only a few interactions whereas a few proteins have many interaction partners. Here we analyze whether the scale-free topologies of the partial networks obtained from Y2H assays can be used to accurately infer the topology of complete interactomes. We generated four theoretical interaction networks of different topologies (random, exponential, power law, truncated normal). Partial sampling of these networks resulted in sub-networks with topological characteristics that were virtually indistinguishable from those of currently available Y2H-derived partial interactome maps. We conclude that given the current limited coverage levels, the observed scale-free topology of existing interactome maps cannot be confidently extrapolated to complete interactomes.

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