BOSTON--During the past 20 years, researchers have identified thousands of cell protein interactions, with the ultimate goal of inventorying all that occur within cells of various organisms a comprehensive catalogue known as the interactome. Such information will be critical to understanding the basic mechanics of cellular life, and how malfunctions in these processes contribute to cancer.
Unfortunately, the data collected by different teams of researchers has been somewhat inconsistent. One group's "map" of protein interactions in yeast cells, for example, may only partially overlap the map produced by another group. Because science depends on investigators' ability to reproduce and build on one another's work, such variability presents a considerable obstacle. The value of interactome maps -- and the potential of further research -- will be at issue as long as the accuracy and thoroughness of the underlying data is uncertain.
To recapture momentum, the field needs to be clear about the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of tracking protein interactions, researchers say, and reach a consensus on questions such as, How reliable is the data produced by different techniques? What portion of the interactome of different organisms has been mapped so far? Why do existing experimental techniques fail to detect certain interactions? What can be done to improve the quality of data collected?
In a series of four papers published in the January issue of the journal Nature Methods, investigators in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) start to answer those questions by examining the accuracy and thoroughness of current interactome maps and the techniques by which they are compiled. The studies -- in a special issue of the journal on the interactome -- provide a set of ground rules for future research and demonstrate the power of such research when backed by well-proven experimental technique
|Contact: Bill Schaller|
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute