BOSTON, MA (Oct 27, 2011)Researchers have built a map that shows how thousands of proteins in a fruit fly cell communicate with each other
"My group has been working for decades, trying to unravel the precise connections among the proteins and gain insight into how the cell functions as a whole," says Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, Harvard Medical School professor of cell biology and senior author on the paper. "For me, and hopefully researchers studying protein interactions, this map is a dream come true."
The study is published October 28 in the journal Cell.
While genes are a cell's data repository, containing all the instructions necessary for life, proteins are its labor force, talking to each other constantly and channeling vital information through vast and complicated networks to keep life stable and healthy. Humans and fruit flies are both descended from a common ancestor, and in most cases, both species still rely on the same ancient cellular machinery for survival. In that respect, the fruit fly's map serves as sort of a blueprint, a useful guide into the cellular activity of many higher organisms.
Understanding how proteins behave normally is often the key to their disease-causing behaviour.
For this study, Artavanis-Tsakonas and his colleagues provide the first large-scale map of this population of proteins. Their map, which is not yet fully complete, reveals many of the relationships these myriad proteins make with each other as they collaborate, something which, to date, has been to a large degree an enduring mystery among biologists.
"We already know what approximately one-third of these proteins do," Artavanis-Tsakonas said. "For another third of them
|Contact: David Cameron|
Harvard Medical School