Marinka Zitnik

Fusing bits and DNA

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Evolution of Protein Interactomes across the Tree of Life

The interactome network of protein-protein interactions captures the structure of molecular machinery and gives rise to a bewildering degree of life complexity. We composed and analyzed interactome networks from 1,840 species across the tree of life, expanding the number of species from about 5 in previous studies to 1,840. This unique dataset allowed us to conduct the largest ever study of protein interactomes and quantify the resilience of interactomes—a critical property as the breakdown of proteins may lead to cell death or disease.

By studying interactomes from 1,840 species across the tree of life, we find that evolution leads to more resilient interactomes, providing evidence for a longstanding hypothesis that interactomes evolve favoring robustness against protein failures. We find that a highly resilient interactome has an astonishingly beneficial impact on the organism to survive in complex, variable, and competitive habitats. Our findings reveal how interactomes change through evolution and how these changes impact their response to environmental unpredictability.