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1.  MORPHIN: a web tool for human disease research by projecting model organism biology onto a human integrated gene network 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(Web Server issue):W147-W153.
Despite recent advances in human genetics, model organisms are indispensable for human disease research. Most human disease pathways are evolutionally conserved among other species, where they may phenocopy the human condition or be associated with seemingly unrelated phenotypes. Much of the known gene-to-phenotype association information is distributed across diverse databases, growing rapidly due to new experimental techniques. Accessible bioinformatics tools will therefore facilitate translation of discoveries from model organisms into human disease biology. Here, we present a web-based discovery tool for human disease studies, MORPHIN (model organisms projected on a human integrated gene network), which prioritizes the most relevant human diseases for a given set of model organism genes, potentially highlighting new model systems for human diseases and providing context to model organism studies. Conceptually, MORPHIN investigates human diseases by an orthology-based projection of a set of model organism genes onto a genome-scale human gene network. MORPHIN then prioritizes human diseases by relevance to the projected model organism genes using two distinct methods: a conventional overlap-based gene set enrichment analysis and a network-based measure of closeness between the query and disease gene sets capable of detecting associations undetectable by the conventional overlap-based methods. MORPHIN is freely accessible at http://www.inetbio.org/morphin.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku434
PMCID: PMC4086117  PMID: 24861622
2.  Modes of Interaction between Individuals Dominate the Topologies of Real World Networks 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121248.
We find that the topologies of real world networks, such as those formed within human societies, by the Internet, or among cellular proteins, are dominated by the mode of the interactions considered among the individuals. Specifically, a major dichotomy in previously studied networks arises from modeling networks in terms of pairwise versus group tasks. The former often intrinsically give rise to scale-free, disassortative, hierarchical networks, whereas the latter often give rise to single- or broad-scale, assortative, nonhierarchical networks. These dependencies explain contrasting observations among previous topological analyses of real world complex systems. We also observe this trend in systems with natural hierarchies, in which alternate representations of the same networks, but which capture different levels of the hierarchy, manifest these signature topological differences. For example, in both the Internet and cellular proteomes, networks of lower-level system components (routers within domains or proteins within biological processes) are assortative and nonhierarchical, whereas networks of upper-level system components (internet domains or biological processes) are disassortative and hierarchical. Our results demonstrate that network topologies of complex systems must be interpreted in light of their hierarchical natures and interaction types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121248
PMCID: PMC4368763  PMID: 25793969
3.  Systematic prediction of gene function in Arabidopsis thaliana using a probabilistic functional gene network 
Nature protocols  2011;6(9):10.1038/nprot.2011.372.
AraNet is a functional gene network for the reference plant Arabidopsis and has been constructed in order to identify new genes associated with plant traits. It is highly predictive for diverse biological pathways and can be used to prioritize genes for functional screens. Moreover, AraNet provides a web-based tool with which plant biologists can efficiently discover novel functions of Arabidopsis genes (http://www.functionalnet.org/aranet/). This protocol explains how to conduct network-based prediction of gene functions using AraNet and how to interpret the prediction results. Functional discovery in plant biology is facilitated by combining candidate prioritization by AraNet with focused experimental tests.
doi:10.1038/nprot.2011.372
PMCID: PMC3654671  PMID: 21886106
4.  RIDDLE: reflective diffusion and local extension reveal functional associations for unannotated gene sets via proximity in a gene network 
Genome Biology  2012;13(12):R125.
The growing availability of large-scale functional networks has promoted the development of many successful techniques for predicting functions of genes. Here we extend these network-based principles and techniques to functionally characterize whole sets of genes. We present RIDDLE (Reflective Diffusion and Local Extension), which uses well developed guilt-by-association principles upon a human gene network to identify associations of gene sets. RIDDLE is particularly adept at characterizing sets with no annotations, a major challenge where most traditional set analyses fail. Notably, RIDDLE found microRNA-450a to be strongly implicated in ocular diseases and development. A web application is available at http://www.functionalnet.org/RIDDLE.
doi:10.1186/gb-2012-13-12-r125
PMCID: PMC4056375  PMID: 23268829
5.  Characterising and Predicting Haploinsufficiency in the Human Genome 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(10):e1001154.
Haploinsufficiency, wherein a single functional copy of a gene is insufficient to maintain normal function, is a major cause of dominant disease. Human disease studies have identified several hundred haploinsufficient (HI) genes. We have compiled a map of 1,079 haplosufficient (HS) genes by systematic identification of genes unambiguously and repeatedly compromised by copy number variation among 8,458 apparently healthy individuals and contrasted the genomic, evolutionary, functional, and network properties between these HS genes and known HI genes. We found that HI genes are typically longer and have more conserved coding sequences and promoters than HS genes. HI genes exhibit higher levels of expression during early development and greater tissue specificity. Moreover, within a probabilistic human functional interaction network HI genes have more interaction partners and greater network proximity to other known HI genes. We built a predictive model on the basis of these differences and annotated 12,443 genes with their predicted probability of being haploinsufficient. We validated these predictions of haploinsufficiency by demonstrating that genes with a high predicted probability of exhibiting haploinsufficiency are enriched among genes implicated in human dominant diseases and among genes causing abnormal phenotypes in heterozygous knockout mice. We have transformed these gene-based haploinsufficiency predictions into haploinsufficiency scores for genic deletions, which we demonstrate to better discriminate between pathogenic and benign deletions than consideration of the deletion size or numbers of genes deleted. These robust predictions of haploinsufficiency support clinical interpretation of novel loss-of-function variants and prioritization of variants and genes for follow-up studies.
Author Summary
Humans, like most complex organisms, have two copies of most genes in their genome, one from the mother and one from the father. This redundancy provides a back-up copy for most genes, should one copy be lost through mutation. For a minority of genes, one functional copy is not enough to sustain normal human function, and mutations causing the loss of function of one of the copies of such genes are a major cause of childhood developmental diseases. Over the past 20 years medical geneticists have identified over 300 such genes, but it is not known how many of the 22,000 genes in our genome may also be sensitive to gene loss. By comparing these ∼300 genes known to be sensitive to gene loss with over 1,000 genes where loss of a single copy does not result in disease, we have identified some key evolutionary and functional similarities between genes sensitive to loss of a single copy. We have used these similarities to predict for most genes in the genome, whether loss of a single copy is likely to result in disease. These predictions will help in the interpretation of mutations seen in patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001154
PMCID: PMC2954820  PMID: 20976243
6.  Rational association of genes with traits using a genome-scale gene network for Arabidopsis thaliana 
Nature biotechnology  2010;28(2):149-156.
Plants are essential sources of food, fiber and renewable energy. Effective methods for manipulating plant traits have important agricultural and economic consequences. We introduce a rational approach for associating genes with plant traits by combined use of a genome-scale functional network and targeted reverse genetic screening. We present a probabilistic network (AraNet) of functional associations among 19,647 (73%) genes of the reference flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. AraNet associations have measured precision greater than literature-based protein interactions (21%) for 55% of genes, and are highly predictive for diverse biological pathways. Using AraNet, we found a 10-fold enrichment in identifying early seedling development genes. By interrogating network neighborhoods, we identify At1g80710 (now Drought sensitive 1; Drs1) and At3g05090 (now Lateral root stimulator 1; Lrs1) as novel regulators of drought sensitivity and lateral root development, respectively. AraNet (http://www.functionalnet.org/aranet/) provides a global resource for plant gene function identification and genetic dissection of plant traits.
doi:10.1038/nbt.1603
PMCID: PMC2857375  PMID: 20118918
7.  The planar cell polarity effector Fuz is essential for targeted membrane trafficking, ciliogenesis, and mouse embryonic development 
Nature cell biology  2009;11(10):1225-1232.
The planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling pathway is essential for embryonic development because it governs diverse cellular behaviors, and the “core PCP” proteins, such as Dishevelled and Frizzled, have been extensively characterized1–4. By contrast, the “PCP effector” proteins, such as Intu and Fuz, remain largely unstudied5, 6. These proteins are essential for PCP signaling, but they have never been investigated in a mammal and their cell biological activities remain entirely unknown. We report here that Fuz mutant mice display neural tube defects, skeletal dysmorphologies, and Hedgehog signaling defects stemming from disrupted ciliogenesis. Using bioinformatics and imaging of an in vivo mucociliary epithelium, we establish a central role for Fuz in membrane trafficking, showing that Fuz is essential for trafficking of cargo to basal bodies and to the apical tips of cilia. Fuz is also essential for exocytosis in secretory cells. Finally, we identify a novel, Rab-related small GTPase as a Fuz interaction partner that is also essential for ciliogenesis and secretion. These results are significant because they provide novel insights into the mechanisms by which developmental regulatory systems like PCP signaling interface with fundamental cellular systems such as the vesicle trafficking machinery.
doi:10.1038/ncb1966
PMCID: PMC2755648  PMID: 19767740
8.  Rational Extension of the Ribosome Biogenesis Pathway Using Network-Guided Genetics 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(10):e1000213.
Gene networks are an efficient route for associating candidate genes with biological processes. Here, networks are used to discover more than 15 new genes for ribosomal subunit maturation, rRNA processing, and ribosomal export from the nucleus.
Biogenesis of ribosomes is an essential cellular process conserved across all eukaryotes and is known to require >170 genes for the assembly, modification, and trafficking of ribosome components through multiple cellular compartments. Despite intensive study, this pathway likely involves many additional genes. Here, we employ network-guided genetics—an approach for associating candidate genes with biological processes that capitalizes on recent advances in functional genomic and proteomic studies—to computationally identify additional ribosomal biogenesis genes. We experimentally evaluated >100 candidate yeast genes in a battery of assays, confirming involvement of at least 15 new genes, including previously uncharacterized genes (YDL063C, YIL091C, YOR287C, YOR006C/TSR3, YOL022C/TSR4). We associate the new genes with specific aspects of ribosomal subunit maturation, ribosomal particle association, and ribosomal subunit nuclear export, and we identify genes specifically required for the processing of 5S, 7S, 20S, 27S, and 35S rRNAs. These results reveal new connections between ribosome biogenesis and mRNA splicing and add >10% new genes—most with human orthologs—to the biogenesis pathway, significantly extending our understanding of a universally conserved eukaryotic process.
Author Summary
Ribosomes are the extremely complex cellular machines responsible for constructing new proteins. In eukaryotic cells, such as yeast, each ribosome contains more than 80 protein or RNA components. These complex machines must themselves be assembled by an even more complex machinery spanning multiple cellular compartments and involving perhaps 200 components in an ordered series of processing events, resulting in delivery of the two halves of the mature ribosome, the 40S and 60S components, to the cytoplasm. The ribosome biogenesis machinery has been only partially characterized, and many lines of evidence suggest that there are additional components that are still unknown. We employed an emerging computational technique called network-guided genetics to identify new candidate genes for this pathway. We then tested the candidates in a battery of experimental assays to determine what roles the genes might play in the biogenesis of ribosomes. This approach proved an efficient route to the discovery of new genes involved in ribosome biogenesis, significantly extending our understanding of a universally conserved eukaryotic process.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000213
PMCID: PMC2749941  PMID: 19806183
9.  Broad network-based predictability of Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene loss-of-function phenotypes 
Genome Biology  2007;8(12):R258.
Loss-of-function phenotypes of yeast genes can be predicted from the loss-of-function phenotypes of their neighbours in functional gene networks. This could potentially be applied to the prediction of human disease genes.
We demonstrate that loss-of-function yeast phenotypes are predictable by guilt-by-association in functional gene networks. Testing 1,102 loss-of-function phenotypes from genome-wide assays of yeast reveals predictability of diverse phenotypes, spanning cellular morphology, growth, metabolism, and quantitative cell shape features. We apply the method to extend a genome-wide screen by predicting, then verifying, genes whose disruption elongates yeast cells, and to predict human disease genes. To facilitate network-guided screens, a web server is available .
doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-12-r258
PMCID: PMC2246260  PMID: 18053250
10.  An Improved, Bias-Reduced Probabilistic Functional Gene Network of Baker's Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e988.
Background
Probabilistic functional gene networks are powerful theoretical frameworks for integrating heterogeneous functional genomics and proteomics data into objective models of cellular systems. Such networks provide syntheses of millions of discrete experimental observations, spanning DNA microarray experiments, physical protein interactions, genetic interactions, and comparative genomics; the resulting networks can then be easily applied to generate testable hypotheses regarding specific gene functions and associations.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report a significantly improved version (v. 2) of a probabilistic functional gene network [1] of the baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We describe our optimization methods and illustrate their effects in three major areas: the reduction of functional bias in network training reference sets, the application of a probabilistic model for calculating confidences in pair-wise protein physical or genetic interactions, and the introduction of simple thresholds that eliminate many false positive mRNA co-expression relationships. Using the network, we predict and experimentally verify the function of the yeast RNA binding protein Puf6 in 60S ribosomal subunit biogenesis.
Conclusions/Significance
YeastNet v. 2, constructed using these optimizations together with additional data, shows significant reduction in bias and improvements in precision and recall, in total covering 102,803 linkages among 5,483 yeast proteins (95% of the validated proteome). YeastNet is available from http://www.yeastnet.org.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000988
PMCID: PMC1991590  PMID: 17912365

Results 1-10 (10)