"We were surprised that no one had done this before and that it worked so well," said study author Desmond Smith, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Modern genome science, although still in its infancy, has accumulated enormous amounts of information that can be repurposed to produce findings such as ours for decades to come. We've just scratched the surface."
To explore the gene interactions, the scientists statistically tested how often one gene appeared with another gene in a cell and which ones appeared together most often.
They determined that genes that frequently appear simultaneously in the radiation hybrid cells, even though they reside far apart on the genome, must be coming together for biological interactions. They found a network of more than 7 million interactions encompassing essentially every one of the genes in the mammalian genome.
The new findings go beyond just understanding where a gene is located, based on DNA sequencing that is, the order in which they reside in a cell.
"Current genetic maps show the order of genes and where they physically reside, like a street map of homes," Smith said. "We took it one step further and were able to map which genes interact when they leave their homes and go to work."
"By looking at a gene's network of 'friends and co-workers,' we can tell a lot about its role and purpose," said study author Andy Lin, a postdoctoral researcher in the UCLA Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology. "Mapping gene interactions is useful for both basic science and clinical research."
According to the researchers, some genes were found to have more extensive interactions than others, which may be helpful in finding specific drug targets to fight diseases such as cancer.
Smith compared the gene n
|Contact: Rachel Champeau|
University of California - Los Angeles