Genetic co-occurrence network across sequenced microbes

Pan Jun Kim, Nathan D. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The phenotype of any organism on earth is, in large part, the consequence of interplay between numerous gene products encoded in the genome, and such interplay between gene products affects the evolutionary fate of the genome itself through the resulting phenotype. In this regard, contemporary genomes can be used as molecular records that reveal associations of various genes working in their natural lifestyles. By analyzing thousands of orthologs across ~600 bacterial species, we constructed a map of gene-gene co-occurrence across much of the sequenced biome. If genes preferentially co-occur in the same organisms, they were called herein correlogs; in the opposite case, called anti-correlogs. To quantify correlogy and anti-correlogy, we alleviated the contribution of indirect correlations between genes by adapting ideas developed for reverse engineering of transcriptional regulatory networks. Resultant correlogous associations are highly enriched for physically interacting proteins and for co-expressed transcripts, clearly differentiating a subgroup of functionally-obligatory protein interactions from conditional or transient interactions. Other biochemical and phylogenetic properties were also found to be reflected in correlogous and anti-correlogous relationships. Additionally, our study elucidates the global organization of the gene association map, in which various modules of correlogous genes are strikingly interconnected by anti-correlogous crosstalk between the modules. We then demonstrate the effectiveness of such associations along different domains of life and environmental microbial communities. These phylogenetic profiling approaches infer functional coupling of genes regardless of mechanistic details, and may be useful to guide exogenous gene import in synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002340
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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