Biological processes are carried out by complex networks of interconnected components, since most gene products in the cell mediate their function together with other gene products. Within such cellular networks physical protein-protein interactions are crucial. The research addresses the following questions: How are protein interactions organized at the scale of the whole cell? Are there global principles that organize such complex networks of interactions? What are the global topological features of networks? And how are such organizational principles disrupted in human disease?
To determine how proteins function in complex cellular networks, we engage in "interactome" modeling, the mapping and systematic characterization of protein-protein interactions at proteome scale. Initially we focused on the multicellular model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, and more recently we have expanded our efforts to the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the model insect Drosophila melanogaster and human, as well as to interactions between viral proteins and host proteins.
The biological information learned in the course of interactome modeling expands understanding of the biology of human cancer.