Discovering functional interdependence relationship in PPI networks for protein complex identification

Winnie W.M. Lam, Chun Chung Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Protein molecules interact with each other in protein complexes to perform many vital functions, and different computational techniques have been developed to identify protein complexes in protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks. These techniques are developed to search for subgraphs of high connectivity in PPI networks under the assumption that the proteins in a protein complex are highly interconnected. While these techniques have been shown to be quite effective, it is also possible that the matching rate between the protein complexes they discover and those that are previously determined experimentally be relatively low and the "false-alarm" rate can be relatively high. This is especially the case when the assumption of proteins in protein complexes being more highly interconnected be relatively invalid. To increase the matching rate and reduce the false-alarm rate, we have developed a technique that can work effectively without having to make this assumption. The name of the technique called protein complex identification by discovering functional interdependence (PCIFI) searches for protein complexes in PPI networks by taking into consideration both the functional interdependence relationship between protein molecules and the network topology of the network. The PCIFI works in several steps. The first step is to construct a multiple-function protein network graph by labeling each vertex with one or more of the molecular functions it performs. The second step is to filter out protein interactions between protein pairs that are not functionally interdependent of each other in the statistical sense. The third step is to make use of an information-theoretic measure to determine the strength of the functional interdependence between all remaining interacting protein pairs. Finally, the last step is to try to form protein complexes based on the measure of the strength of functional interdependence and the connectivity between proteins. For performance evaluation, PCIFI was used to identify protein complexes in real PPI network data and the protein complexes it found were matched against those that were previously known in MIPS. The results show that PCIFI can be an effective technique for the identification of protein complexes. The protein complexes it found can match more known protein complexes with a smaller false-alarm rate and can provide useful insights into the understanding of the functional interdependence relationships between proteins in protein complexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-908
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Graph mining
  • protein complex discovery
  • protein-protein interactions (PPIs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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