The image shows an Arabidopsis plant overlaid on a network map of protein-protein interactions. The clusters of colors represent “communities” of interacting proteins that are enriched in specific plant processes. Image: Courtesy of Joseph R. Ecker, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
international consortium of scientists has produced the first
systematic network map of interactions that occur between proteins in
the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. (Arabidopsis is a mustard plant that has
27,000 proteins and serves as a popular model organism for biological
studies of plants, analogous to lab rats that serve as popular model
organisms for biological studies of animals.)
as an “interactome,” the new Arabidopsis network map defines 6,205
protein-to-protein Arabidopsis interactions involving 2,774 individual
proteins. By itself, this map doubles the volume of data on protein
interactions in plants that is currently available.
new network map is covered in the July 29th issue of Science. It was
produced with partial funding from the National Science Foundation by
the so-called “Arabidopsis Interactome Mapping Consortium.” The
Consortium has an international membership and is composed of many
institutions and researchers.
The consortium’s new network map of Arabidopsis has already provided the
foundation for new discoveries involving plant growth and disease
resistance. For example, the July 29 issue of Science features a
companion study that?built on the new map?identifies proteins that help
Arabidopsis fight various pathogens. Such findings may help advance
efforts to improve crop plants.
production of the Arabidopsis network map was made possible, in part,
by the previous production of the genome sequence of Arabidopsis; this
sequence is a veritable “parts list” of the plant’s genetic components.
But more revealing than the genome sequence, the network map provides
insights on the functions of proteins, the compositions of protein
communities, and the evolutionary changes of proteins through time,
among other things.
starts to give us a big, systems-level picture of how Arabidopsis
works, and much of that systems-level picture is going to be relevant
to?and guide further research on?other plant species, including those
used in human agriculture and even pharmaceuticals,” says Salk Institute
biologist Joseph Ecker, a senior member of the Consortium.
because of the vast complexity of Arabidopsis‘s biology, the 6,205
Arabidopsis protein-to-protein interactions identified in the plant’s
new network map represents only about two percent of Arabidopsis protein
interactions. Larger and more sensitive maps that identify more of
these interactions are expected to be developed in the future.