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Planta. 2006 Sep;224(4):771-81. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

Protein interaction networks in plants.

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Botanisches Institut III, Universität zu Köln, Gyrhof Strasse 15, 50931 Koln, Germany.


Protein-protein interactions are fundamental to virtually every aspect of cellular functions. With the development of high-throughput technologies of both the yeast two-hybrid system and tandem mass spectrometry, genome-wide protein-linkage mapping has become a major objective in post-genomic research. While at least partial "interactome" networks of several model organisms are already available, in the plant field, progress in this respect is slow. However, even with comprehensive protein interaction data still missing, substantial recent advance in the graph-theoretical functional interpretation of complex network architectures might pave the way for novel approaches in plant research. This article reviews current progress and discussions in network biology. Emphasis is put on the question of what can be learned about protein functions and cellular processes by studying the topology of complex protein interaction networks and the evolutionary mechanisms underlying their development. Particularly the intermediate and local levels of network organization--the modules, motifs and cliques--are increasingly recognized as the operational units of biological functions. As demonstrated by some recent results from systematic analyses of plant protein families, protein interaction networks promise to be a valuable tool for a molecular understanding of functional specificities and for identifying novel regulatory components and pathways.

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