In search of the biological significance of modular structures in protein networks

May 31, 2007

It is easy to observe that many networks naturally divide into communities or modules, where links within modules are stronger and denser than those across modules – like the way people from the same age group tend to interact more with each other than with people from different age groups. It is widely believed that networks within cells are modular in much the same way. Drs Zhi Wang and Jianzhi Zhang, from the University of Michigan, now investigate these modular properties and conclude that they may be only a random byproduct of evolution, and not functional at all.

The modules of cellular networks were thought to be formed in a way that reflects the relative independence and coherence of the various functional units in a cell – each module serves a function. This investigation, published in the Open Access journal PLoS Computational Biology, now suggests that the structural modules in the yeast protein-protein interaction network may have originated as an evolutionary byproduct without much biological significance.

There is little evidence that the previously observed structural modules correspond in any way to functional units. It seems that previous analyses may have even created some of these modules through the techniques used to investigate protein properties. Refuting previous studies, the authors now show by computer simulation that modular structures can arise during network growth via a simple model of gene duplication, without a natural selection preference for modularity.


Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, 'alternative' medicines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Many tongues, one voice, one common ambition

Jul 31, 2014

There is much need to develop energy efficient solutions for residential buildings in Europe. The EU-funded project, MeeFS, due to be completed by the end of 2015, is developing an innovative multifunctional and energy efficient ...

Protein evolution follows a modular principle

Jul 23, 2014

Proteins impart shape and stability to cells, drive metabolic processes and transmit signals. To perform these manifold tasks, they fold into complex three-dimensional shapes. Scientists at the Max Planck ...

Modular facades for tailored retrofitting

Jun 20, 2014

Innovative solutions are required to improve the energy efficiency of the existing residential building stock in Europe. But combining such innovation with better management and new business models creates ...

Manufacturing processes driving smartphone prices down

May 22, 2014

A change is taking place in the mobile phone market that has the potential to bring more power to the consumer. Cheaper devices are becoming an option and while they're not quite ready yet, they could revolutionise ...

Robots transform into furniture at EPFL (w/ Video)

May 21, 2014

EPFL scientists from the Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB) have developed small robotic modules that can change their shape to create reconfigurable furniture. "Eventually, all you'll need to do is program ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0