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Open Access Research article

Differential evolutionary conservation of motif modes in the yeast protein interaction network

Wei-Po Lee1, Bing-Chiang Jeng2, Tun-Wen Pai3, Chin-Pei Tsai4, Chang-Yung Yu4 and Wen-Shyong Tzou56*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Information Management, National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

2 Department of Information Management, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

3 Department of Computer Science, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan

4 Department of Applied Mathematics, Providence University, Taiwan

5 Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan

6 Center for Marine Bioscience and Biotechnology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:89  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-89

Published: 25 April 2006

Abstract

Background

The importance of a network motif (a recurring interconnected pattern of special topology which is over-represented in a biological network) lies in its position in the hierarchy between the protein molecule and the module in a protein-protein interaction network. Until now, however, the methods available have greatly restricted the scope of research. While they have focused on the analysis in the resolution of a motif topology, they have not been able to distinguish particular motifs of the same topology in a protein-protein interaction network.

Results

We have been able to assign the molecular function annotations of Gene Ontology to each protein in the protein-protein interactions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For various motif topologies, we have developed an algorithm, enabling us to unveil one million "motif modes", each of which features a unique topological combination of molecular functions. To our surprise, the conservation ratio, i.e., the extent of the evolutionary constraints upon the motif modes of the same motif topology, varies significantly, clearly indicative of distinct differences in the evolutionary constraints upon motifs of the same motif topology. Equally important, for all motif modes, we have found a power-law distribution of the motif counts on each motif mode. We postulate that motif modes may very well represent the evolutionary-conserved topological units of a protein interaction network.

Conclusion

For the first time, the motifs of a protein interaction network have been investigated beyond the scope of motif topology. The motif modes determined in this study have not only enabled us to differentiate among different evolutionary constraints on motifs of the same topology but have also opened up new avenues through which protein interaction networks can be analyzed.