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The effects of incomplete protein interaction data on structural and evolutionary inferences

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  • E de Silva, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • T Thorne, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • P Ingram, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • I Agrafioti, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • J Swire, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • Carsten Wiuf, Denmark
  • MPH Stumpf, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC)
  • Department of clinical biochemistry


Present protein interaction network data sets include only interactions among subsets of the proteins in an organism. Previously this has been ignored, but in principle any global network analysis that only looks at partial data may be biased. Here we demonstrate the need to consider network sampling properties explicitly and from the outset in any analysis.


Here we study how properties of the yeast protein interaction network are affected by random and non-random sampling schemes using a range of different network statistics. Effects are shown to be independent of the inherent noise in protein interaction data. The effects of the incomplete nature of network data become very noticeable, especially for so-called network motifs. We also consider the effect of incomplete network data on functional and evolutionary inferences.


Crucially, when only small, partial network data sets are considered, bias is virtually inevitable. Given the scope of effects considered here, previous analyses may have to be carefully reassessed: ignoring the fact that present network data are incomplete will severely affect our ability to understand biological systems

Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Biology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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