Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In Silico Epistasis

This is a neat paper.

Imielinski M, Belta C. Exploiting the pathway structure of metabolism to reveal high-order epistasis. BMC Syst Biol. 2008 Apr 30;2:40. [PubMed]

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Biological robustness results from redundant pathways that achieve an essential objective, e.g. the production of biomass. As a consequence, the biological roles of many genes can only be revealed through multiple knockouts that identify a set of genes as essential for a given function. The identification of such "epistatic" essential relationships between network components is critical for the understanding and eventual manipulation of robust systems-level phenotypes. RESULTS: We introduce and apply a network-based approach for genome-scale metabolic knockout design. We apply this method to uncover over 11,000 minimal knockouts for biomass production in an in silico genome-scale model of E. coli. A large majority of these "essential sets" contain 5 or more reactions, and thus represent complex epistatic relationships between components of the E. coli metabolic network. CONCLUSION: The complex minimal biomass knockouts discovered with our approach illuminate robust essential systems-level roles for reactions in the E. coli metabolic network. Unlike previous approaches, our method yields results regarding high-order epistatic relationships and is applicable at the genome-scale.

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