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Medicineworld.org: What's the difference between a human and a fruit fly?

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What's the difference between a human and a fruit fly?




Fruit flies are dramatically different from humans not in their number of genes, but in the number of protein interactions in their bodies, as per researchers who have developed a new way of estimating the total number of interactions between proteins in any organism.

The new research, published recently (13 May 2008) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, shows that humans have approximately 10 times more protein interactions than the simple fruit fly, and 20 times as a number of as simple, single-cell yeast organisms.

This contradicts comparisons between the numbers of genes in different organisms, which yield surprising results: humans have approximately 24,000 genes, but fruit flies are not far behind, with approximately 14,000 genes.



What's the difference between a human and a fruit fly?

The interaction between different proteins is behind all physiological systems in the human body. When the body digests food, responds to a change in temperature, or fights off an infection, numerous combinations of protein interactions are involved. However, until now it has been impossible to calculate the numbers of interactions that take place within different organisms.

Professor Michael Stumpf from Imperial College Londons Department of Life Sciences, one of the papers authors, explains the significance of the new study, saying:

Researchers have believed for some time that the complexity of an organisms protein interactions determine its biological complexity, but until now its been impossible to put a number on the size of one organisms interaction network in comparison to another, as relatively little work has been done to identify and map these interactions.

Researchers refer to the total number of protein interactions in the body as the human interactome, likening it to the human genome, which is most usually linked to giving us our human traits.

Professor Stumpf adds: Understanding the human genome definitely does not go far enough to explain what makes us different from more simple creatures. Our study indicates that protein interactions could hold one of the keys to unraveling how one organism is differentiated from another.

The scientists devised a mathematical tool which allows them to predict the total size of an organisms protein interaction network based on currently available, incomplete data.

The scientists next steps will be to make much more detailed predictions based on careful comparisons between species. This will be crucial in order to understand, for example, why some fungal species, such as bakers yeast are important in the production of bread and beer, while other closely related species cause fungal infections with high mortality rates.


Posted by: Scott    Source




Did you know?
Fruit flies are dramatically different from humans not in their number of genes, but in the number of protein interactions in their bodies, as per researchers who have developed a new way of estimating the total number of interactions between proteins in any organism. The new research, published recently (13 May 2008) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, shows that humans have approximately 10 times more protein interactions than the simple fruit fly, and 20 times as a number of as simple, single-cell yeast organisms.

Medicineworld.org: What's the difference between a human and a fruit fly?

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