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Nat Cell Biol. 2013 Jan;15(1):103-12. doi: 10.1038/ncb2639. Epub 2012 Dec 16.

Systematic genetic interaction screens uncover cell polarity regulators and functional redundancy.

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The Gurdon Institute and Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QN, UK.


Although single-gene loss-of-function analyses can identify components of particular processes, important molecules are missed owing to the robustness of biological systems. Here we show that large-scale RNAi screening for suppression interactions with functionally related mutants greatly expands the repertoire of genes known to act in a shared process and reveals a new layer of functional relationships. We performed RNAi screens for 17 Caenorhabditis elegans cell polarity mutants, generating the most comprehensive polarity network in a metazoan, connecting 184 genes. Of these, 72% were not previously linked to cell polarity and 80% have human homologues. We experimentally confirmed functional roles predicted by the network and characterized through biophysical analyses eight myosin regulators. In addition, we discovered functional redundancy between two unknown polarity genes. Similar systematic genetic interaction screens for other biological processes will help uncover the inventory of relevant genes and their patterns of interactions.

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