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Modular organization in the reductive evolution of protein-protein interaction networks

Javier Tamames1*, Andrés Moya1 and Alfonso Valencia2

Author affiliations

1 Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Universitat de València, 46071 Valencia, Spain

2 Structural and Computational Biology Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), 28029 Madrid, Spain

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Citation and License

Genome Biology 2007, 8:R94  doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-5-r94

Published: 28 May 2007



The variation in the sizes of the genomes of distinct life forms remains somewhat puzzling. The organization of proteins into domains and the different mechanisms that regulate gene expression are two factors that potentially increase the capacity of genomes to create more complex systems. High-throughput protein interaction data now make it possible to examine the additional complexity generated by the way that protein interactions are organized.


We have studied the reduction in genome size of Buchnera compared to its close relative Escherichia coli. In this well defined evolutionary scenario, we found that among all the properties of the protein interaction networks, it is the organization of networks into modules that seems to be directly related to the evolutionary process of genome reduction.


In Buchnera, the apparently non-random reduction of the modular structure of the networks and the retention of essential characteristics of the interaction network indicate that the roles of proteins within the interaction network are important in the reductive process.