Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel insights into the evolution of protein networks

Date:
March 21, 2013
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
System-wide networks of proteins are indispensable for organisms. Function and evolution of these networks are among the most fascinating research questions in biology. Researchers have reconstructed ancestral protein networks. The results are of high interest not only for evolutionary research but also for the interpretation of genome sequence data.

This image shows the detail of a protein network.
Credit: Copyright: Universitδt Wien

System-wide networks of proteins are indispensable for organisms. Function and evolution of these networks are among the most fascinating research questions in biology. Bioinformatician Thomas Rattei, University of Vienna, and physicist Hernan Makse, City University New York (CUNY), have reconstructed ancestral protein networks. The results are of high interest not only for evolutionary research but also for the interpretation of genome sequence data.

Recently, the researchers published their paper in the online journal PLOS ONE.

The cells of all organisms consist mostly of proteins, which develop various functions through their complex interactions. These functions range from metabolism, maintenance and control of the cellular structure to the exchange of signals with other cells and the environment. Proteins rarely act alone -- only their system-wide network makes organisms viable. "The knowledge about function and evolution of these protein networks is currently one of the most fascinating questions in biology and relevant e.g. also to cancer research," explains Thomas Rattei, Head of the Department of Computational Systems Biology at the University Center Althanstrasse.

In pursuit of the blueprint of protein networks

The combination of 20 different building blocks -- amino acids -- results in an enormous variety of theoretically possible protein variants; many more than the estimated number of stars in the universe. The random formation of an interaction between proteins seems therefore extremely unlikely. Thomas Rattei, Professor of In-Silico Genomics at the University of Vienna, and Hernan Makse, Professor of Physics at the City University New York (CUNY), and their teams investigate how complex and manifold protein networks could still evolve in present-day organisms.

Starting point of the joint research project was a hypothesis emphasising the importance of the duplication of proteins in the course of evolution. If the gene encoding a protein is duplicated in the genome, which often happens in evolution, original and copy will interact with the same partners in the protein network. Once original and copy diverge over time, novel proteins with individual features and own partners in the network will emerge. Interactions in the network would thereby not be newly created but evolve through duplication and divergence from simpler ancestors.

Protein networks of extinct ancestors were reconstructed

The two workgroups around bioinformatician Thomas Rattei and physicist Hernan Makse tested and improved this hypothesis in an elaborate computational experiment. They developed a novel method for the reconstruction of protein networks of extinct evolutionary ancestors from the genomes and networks of present-day species. Data of seven species from various domains of life were used: from bacteria, fungi, plants, animals to humans.

Present-day networks -- complex structures through simple mechanisms

The comparison of these reconstructed ancient protein networks yielded a surprisingly clear result: the present-day networks can be explained almost exclusively through the mechanism of duplication and divergence. Novel interactions between proteins emerge on rare occasions. This principle seems to be universal in the evolution of species as it was confirmed by the data obtained from all species analysed in this study. This principle could also explain the dynamics of other biological networks and it explains special features of protein networks such as self-similarity (fractality) in a straightforward way.

Useful for the interpretation of genome sequences and evolutionary biology

The results of the joint research project of the University of Vienna and CUNY will not only be relevant for evolutionary biology. They particularly support the interpretation of genome sequence data, which has become a powerful tool in many areas of biology and medicine in the last years. This is also the goal of many other current research projects of the Department of Computational Systems Biology, which focuses on research on pathogens, microbial communities and molecular interactions between species adopting a system-oriented approach.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuliang Jin, Dmitrij Turaev, Thomas Weinmaier, Thomas Rattei, Hernαn A. Makse. The Evolutionary Dynamics of Protein-Protein Interaction Networks Inferred from the Reconstruction of Ancient Networks. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e58134 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058134

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "Novel insights into the evolution of protein networks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321110929.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2013, March 21). Novel insights into the evolution of protein networks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321110929.htm
University of Vienna. "Novel insights into the evolution of protein networks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321110929.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins