Repository logo

Protein-protein interactions and metabolic pathways reconstruction of Caenorhabditis elegans



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Degree Level



Metabolic networks are the collections of all cellular activities taking place in a living cell and all the relationships among biological elements of the cell including genes, proteins, enzymes, metabolites, and reactions. They provide a better understanding of cellular mechanisms and phenotypic characteristics of the studied organism. In order to reconstruct a metabolic network, interactions among genes and their molecular attributes along with their functions must be known. Using this information, proteins are distributed among pathways as sub-networks of a greater metabolic network. Proteins which carry out various steps of a biological process operate in same pathway.The metabolic network of Caenorhabditis elegans was reconstructed based on current genomic information obtained from the KEGG database, and commonly found in SWISS-PROT and WormBase. Assuming proteins operating in a pathway are interacting proteins, currently available protein-protein interaction map of the studied organism was assembled. This map contains all known protein-protein interactions collected from various sources up to the time. Topology of the reconstructed network was briefly studied and the role of key enzymes in the interconnectivity of the network was analysed. The analysis showed that the shortest metabolic paths represent the most probable routes taken by the organism where endogenous sources of nutrient are available to the organism. Nonetheless, there are alternate paths to allow the organism to survive under extraneous variations. Signature content information of proteins was utilized to reveal protein interactions upon a notion that when two proteins share signature(s) in their primary structures, the two proteins are more likely to interact. The signature content of proteins was used to measure the extent of similarity between pairs of proteins based on binary similarity score. Pairs of proteins with a binary similarity score greater than a threshold corresponding to confidence level 95% were predicted as interacting proteins. The reliability of predicted pairs was statistically analyzed. The sensitivity and specificity analysis showed that the proposed approach outperformed maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) approach with a 22% increase in area under curve of receiving operator characteristic (ROC) when they were applied to the same datasets. When proteins containing one and two known signatures were removed from the protein dataset, the area under curve (AUC) increased from 0.549 to 0.584 and 0.655, respectively. Increase in the AUC indicates that proteins with one or two known signatures do not provide sufficient information to predict robust protein-protein interactions. Moreover, it demonstrates that when proteins with more known signatures are used in signature profiling methods the overlap with experimental findings will increase resulting in higher true positive rate and eventually greater AUC. Despite the accuracy of protein-protein interaction methods proposed here and elsewhere, they often predict true positive interactions along with numerous false positive interactions. A global algorithm was also proposed to reduce the number of false positive predicted protein interacting pairs. This algorithm relies on gene ontology (GO) annotations of proteins involved in predicted interactions. A dataset of experimentally confirmed protein pair interactions and their GO annotations was used as a training set to train keywords which were able to recover both their source interactions (training set) and predicted interactions in other datasets (test sets). These keywords along with the cellular component annotation of proteins were employed to set a pair of rules that were to be satisfied by any predicted pair of interacting proteins. When this algorithm was applied to four predicted datasets obtained using phylogenetic profiles, gene expression patterns, chance co-occurrence distribution coefficient, and maximum likelihood estimation for S. cerevisiae and C. elegans, the improvement in true positive fractions of the datasets was observed in a magnitude of 2-fold to 10-fold depending on the computational method used to create the dataset and the available information on the organism of interest. The predicted protein-protein interactions were incorporated into the prior reconstructed metabolic network of C. elegans, resulting in 1024 new interactions among 94 metabolic pathways. In each of 1024 new interactions one unknown protein was interacting with a known partner found in the reconstructed metabolic network. Unknown proteins were characterized based on the involvement of their known partners. Based on the binary similarity scores, the function of an uncharacterized protein in an interacting pair was defined according to its known counterpart whose function was already specified. With the incorporation of new predicted interactions to the metabolic network, an expanded version of that network was resulted with 27% increase in the number of known proteins involved in metabolism. Connectivity of proteins in protein-protein interaction map changed from 42 to 34 due to the increase in the number of characterized proteins in the network.



Metabolic network reconstruction, metabolic pathways, computational prediction methods, Protein-protein interaction



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering


Part Of