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1.  Edgetic perturbation models of human inherited disorders 
Cellular functions are mediated through complex systems of macromolecules and metabolites linked through biochemical and physical interactions, represented in interactome models as ‘nodes' and ‘edges', respectively. Better understanding of genotype-to-phenotype relationships in human disease will require modeling of how disease-causing mutations affect systems or interactome properties. Here we investigate how perturbations of interactome networks may differ between complete loss of gene products (‘node removal') and interaction-specific or edge-specific (‘edgetic') alterations. Global computational analyses of ∼50 000 known causative mutations in human Mendelian disorders revealed clear separations of mutations probably corresponding to those of node removal versus edgetic perturbations. Experimental characterization of mutant alleles in various disorders identified diverse edgetic interaction profiles of mutant proteins, which correlated with distinct structural properties of disease proteins and disease mechanisms. Edgetic perturbations seem to confer distinct functional consequences from node removal because a large fraction of cases in which a single gene is linked to multiple disorders can be modeled by distinguishing edgetic network perturbations. Edgetic network perturbation models might improve both the understanding of dissemination of disease alleles in human populations and the development of molecular therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC2795474  PMID: 19888216
binary protein interaction; genotype-to-phenotype relationships; human Mendelian disorders; network perturbation
3.  Large-scale RNAi screens identify novel genes that interact with the C. elegans retinoblastoma pathway as well as splicing-related components with synMuv B activity 
The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (Rb) acts in a conserved pathway that is deregulated in most human cancers. Inactivation of the single Rb-related gene in Caenorhabditis elegans, lin-35, has only limited effects on viability and fertility, yet causes changes in cell-fate and cell-cycle regulation when combined with inactivation of specific other genes. For instance, lin-35 Rb is a synthetic multivulva (synMuv) class B gene, which causes a multivulva phenotype when inactivated simultaneously with a class A or C synMuv gene.
We used the ORFeome RNAi library to identify genes that interact with C. elegans lin-35 Rb and identified 57 genes that showed synthetic or enhanced RNAi phenotypes in lin-35 mutants as compared to rrf-3 and eri-1 RNAi hypersensitive mutants. Based on characterizations of a deletion allele, the synthetic lin-35 interactor zfp-2 was found to suppress RNAi and to cooperate with lin-35 Rb in somatic gonad development. Interestingly, ten splicing-related genes were found to function similar to lin-35 Rb, as synMuv B genes that prevent inappropriate vulval induction. Partial inactivation of specific spliceosome components revealed further similarities with lin-35 Rb functions in cell-cycle control, transgene expression and restricted expression of germline granules.
We identified an extensive series of candidate lin-35 Rb interacting genes and validated zfp-2 as a novel lin-35 synthetic lethal gene. In addition, we observed a novel role for a subset of splicing components in lin-35 Rb-controlled processes. Our data support novel hypotheses about possibilities for anti-cancer therapies and multilevel regulation of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC1863419  PMID: 17417969
4.  Insight into transcription factor gene duplication from Caenorhabditis elegans Promoterome-driven expression patterns 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:27.
The C. elegans Promoterome is a powerful resource for revealing the regulatory mechanisms by which transcription is controlled pan-genomically. Transcription factors will form the core of any systems biology model of genome control and therefore the promoter activity of Promoterome inserts for C. elegans transcription factor genes was examined, in vivo, with a reporter gene approach.
Transgenic C. elegans strains were generated for 366 transcription factor promoter/gfp reporter gene fusions. GFP distributions were determined, and then summarized with reference to developmental stage and cell type. Reliability of these data was demonstrated by comparison to previously described gene product distributions. A detailed consideration of the results for one C. elegans transcription factor gene family, the Six family, comprising ceh-32, ceh-33, ceh-34 and unc-39 illustrates the value of these analyses. The high proportion of Promoterome reporter fusions that drove GFP expression, compared to previous studies, led to the hypothesis that transcription factor genes might be involved in local gene duplication events less frequently than other genes. Comparison of transcription factor genes of C. elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae was therefore carried out and revealed very few examples of functional gene duplication since the divergence of these species for most, but not all, transcription factor gene families.
Examining reporter expression patterns for hundreds of promoters informs, and thereby improves, interpretation of this data type. Genes encoding transcription factors involved in intrinsic developmental control processes appear acutely sensitive to changes in gene dosage through local gene duplication, on an evolutionary time scale.
PMCID: PMC1785375  PMID: 17244357
5.  A gene expression fingerprint of C. elegans embryonic motor neurons 
BMC Genomics  2005;6:42.
Differential gene expression specifies the highly diverse cell types that constitute the nervous system. With its sequenced genome and simple, well-defined neuroanatomy, the nematode C. elegans is a useful model system in which to correlate gene expression with neuron identity. The UNC-4 transcription factor is expressed in thirteen embryonic motor neurons where it specifies axonal morphology and synaptic function. These cells can be marked with an unc-4::GFP reporter transgene. Here we describe a powerful strategy, Micro-Array Profiling of C. elegans cells (MAPCeL), and confirm that this approach provides a comprehensive gene expression profile of unc-4::GFP motor neurons in vivo.
Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) was used to isolate unc-4::GFP neurons from primary cultures of C. elegans embryonic cells. Microarray experiments detected 6,217 unique transcripts of which ~1,000 are enriched in unc-4::GFP neurons relative to the average nematode embryonic cell. The reliability of these data was validated by the detection of known cell-specific transcripts and by expression in UNC-4 motor neurons of GFP reporters derived from the enriched data set. In addition to genes involved in neurotransmitter packaging and release, the microarray data include transcripts for receptors to a remarkably wide variety of signaling molecules. The added presence of a robust array of G-protein pathway components is indicative of complex and highly integrated mechanisms for modulating motor neuron activity. Over half of the enriched genes (537) have human homologs, a finding that could reflect substantial overlap with the gene expression repertoire of mammalian motor neurons.
We have described a microarray-based method, MAPCeL, for profiling gene expression in specific C. elegans motor neurons and provide evidence that this approach can reveal candidate genes for key roles in the differentiation and function of these cells. These methods can now be applied to generate a gene expression map of the C. elegans nervous system.
PMCID: PMC1079822  PMID: 15780142

Results 1-5 (5)