Casting the molecular net

Jun 14, 2007

Scientists at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital (Canada), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) have created a new computational method called NetworKIN. This method uses biological networks to better identify relationships between molecules. In a cover story featured in the June 29, 2007 edition of the journal Cell, the scientists report insights into the regulation of protein networks that will ultimately help to target human disease.

“Thousands of proteins can be changed (via phosphorylation) but until now, it has not been possible to know which protein has made the change,” states Dr. Tony Pawson, distinguished investigator at the Lunenfeld.

Proteins are the functional agents that carry out processes in a cell. But they rarely act alone. Instead they accomplish their effects as part of big networks. How proteins interact in these networks often depends on phosphorylation, the addition of a phosphate at specific sites on a protein. Kinases are proteins that bring about the phosphorylation of other proteins and in this way regulate cellular processes.

“By getting a network-wide view, multiple aberrant genes of kinase-controlled processes are more easily targeted,” states Dr. Rune Linding, postdoctoral fellow, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. “In the future, the treatment of complex human diseases will be treated by targeting multiple genes.” Complex diseases like cancer often contain defects in several processes controlled by kinases.

“It works a bit like getting a recommendation from Amazon,” says Dr. Peer Bork, group leader at EMBL. “The fact that certain books have been bought by the same customers tells you that they have something in common. In the same way biological networks tell us about shared features between different proteins. These help us predicting which kinases are likely to act on them.”

Source: Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute

Explore further: In hot and cold water: The private lives of 'Hoff' crabs revealed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New nanogel for drug delivery

Feb 19, 2015

Scientists are interested in using gels to deliver drugs because they can be molded into specific shapes and designed to release their payload over a specified time period. However, current versions aren't ...

Bacteria coordinate activities with chemical 'language'

Jan 15, 2015

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a previously unknown chemical language used by many bacterial species to coordinate their activities, and show in a model organism that such ...

Recommended for you

Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

9 hours ago

Modern biology has attained deep knowledge of how cells work, but the mechanisms by which cellular structures assemble and grow to the right size largely remain a mystery. Now, Princeton University researchers ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.