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Open Access Research article

Removing bias against membrane proteins in interaction networks

Glauber C Brito* and David W Andrews

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5, Canada

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BMC Systems Biology 2011, 5:169  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-5-169

Published: 19 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Cellular interaction networks can be used to analyze the effects on cell signaling and other functional consequences of perturbations to cellular physiology. Thus, several methods have been used to reconstitute interaction networks from multiple published datasets. However, the structure and performance of these networks depends on both the quality and the unbiased nature of the original data. Due to the inherent bias against membrane proteins in protein-protein interaction (PPI) data, interaction networks can be compromised particularly if they are to be used in conjunction with drug screening efforts, since most drug-targets are membrane proteins.

Results

To overcome the experimental bias against PPIs involving membrane-associated proteins we used a probabilistic approach based on a hypergeometric distribution followed by logistic regression to simultaneously optimize the weights of different sources of interaction data. The resulting less biased genome-scale network constructed for the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae revealed that the starvation pathway is a distinct subnetwork of autophagy and retrieved a more integrated network of unfolded protein response genes. We also observed that the centrality-lethality rule depends on the content of membrane proteins in networks.

Conclusions

We show here that the bias against membrane proteins can and should be corrected in order to have a better representation of the interactions and topological properties of protein interaction networks.