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Researchers build largest protein interaction map to date
Date:10/27/2011

we can sort of guess. But there's another third that we know nothing about. And now through this kind of analysis we can begin to explore the functions of these proteins. This is giving us extraordinary insight into how the cell works."

One significant use for such a map is to assess how a cell responds to changes in metabolic conditions, such as interactions with drugs or in conditions where genetic alterations occur. Finding such answers might lead to future drug treatments for disease, and perhaps to a deeper understanding of what occurs in conditions such as cancer.

"This is of extraordinary translational value," Artavanis-Tsakonas said. "In order to know how the proteins work you must know who they talk to. And then you can examine whether a disease somehow alters this conversation."

A pivotal part of this research involved a scientific technique called mass spectrometry, which is relatively new to the science of biology. The ultra-precise mass spectrometry experiments were done by HMS professor of cell biology Steven Gygi. Mass spectrometry is used to measure the exact weight (the mass) and thus identify each individual protein in a sample. It is a technique originally devised by physicists for analyzing atomic particles. But in recent years mass spectrometry was adapted and refined for new and powerful uses in basic biological research. Other studies using similar techniques to date have focussed on small groups of related proteins or single celled model organisms such as bacteria and yeast.

Despite the huge amount already known about the fruit fly and its genetic endowment, much about the function of thousands of proteins remains a mystery. This map, however, now gives us precice clues about their function. Filling in the detailed protein map can help scientists gain important insights into the process of development, that is, how a creature is put together, maintained and operated.

"Our analyses also sheds li
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Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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