Network Biology, 2011, 1(3-4):134-148
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Topological peculiarities of mammalian networks with different functionalities: transcription, signal transduction and metabolic networks

Bjorn Goemann, Edgar Wingender, Anatolij P. Potapov
Department of Bioinformatics, University Medical Center Gottingen (UMG), Goldschmidtstrasse 1, D-37077 Gottingen, Germany

Received 27 September 2011; Accepted 25 October 2011; Published online 20 November 2011

We have comparatively investigated three different mammalian networks ¨C on transcription, signal transduction and metabolic processes - with respect to their common and individual topological traits. The networks have been constructed based on genome-wide data collected from human, mouse and rat. None of these three networks exhibits a pure power-law degree distribution and, therefore, could be considered scalefree. Rather, the degree distributions of all three networks were best fitted by mixed models of a power law with an exponential tail. The networks differ from one another in the quantitative parameters of the models. Moreover, the transcription network can also be very well approximated by an exponential law. The connectivity within each network is rather robust, as is seen when removing individual nodes and computing the values of their pairwise disconnectivity index (PDI), which characterizes the topological significance of each node v by the number of direct or indirect connections in the network that critically depend on the presence of v. The results evidence that the networks are not centralized: none of nodes globally controls the integrity of each network. Just a few vertices appeared to strongly affect the coherence of the networks. These nodes are characterized by a broad range of degrees, thereby indicating that the degree alone is not the decisive criteria of a node¡¯s importance. The networks reveal distinct architectures: The transcriptional network exhibits a hierarchical modularity, whereas the signaling network is mainly comprised of semi-autonomous modules. The metabolic network seems to be made by a more complex mixture of substructures. Thus, despite being encoded by the same genomes, the networks significantly differ from one another in their general architectural design. Altogether, our results indicate that the subsets of genes and relationships that constitute these networks have co-evolved very differently and through multiple mechanisms.

Keywords mammalian network; transcription; signal transduction; metabolic; topology; modularity.

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