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J Mol Biol. 2004 Jun 25;340(1):179-90.

LGL: creating a map of protein function with an algorithm for visualizing very large biological networks.

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Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, and Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, 1 University Avenue, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-1095, USA.


Networks are proving to be central to the study of gene function, protein-protein interaction, and biochemical pathway data. Visualization of networks is important for their study, but visualization tools are often inadequate for working with very large biological networks. Here, we present an algorithm, called large graph layout (LGL), which can be used to dynamically visualize large networks on the order of hundreds of thousands of vertices and millions of edges. LGL applies a force-directed iterative layout guided by a minimal spanning tree of the network in order to generate coordinates for the vertices in two or three dimensions, which are subsequently visualized and interactively navigated with companion programs. We demonstrate the use of LGL in visualizing an extensive protein map summarizing the results of approximately 21 billion sequence comparisons between 145579 proteins from 50 genomes. Proteins are positioned in the map according to sequence homology and gene fusions, with the map ultimately serving as a theoretical framework that integrates inferences about gene function derived from sequence homology, remote homology, gene fusions, and higher-order fusions. We confirm that protein neighbors in the resulting map are functionally related, and that distinct map regions correspond to distinct cellular systems, enabling a computational strategy for discovering proteins' functions on the basis of the proteins' map positions. Using the map produced by LGL, we infer general functions for 23 uncharacterized protein families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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