Sep 27, 2015

Principles of studying a cell - a non-boastful paper for all molecular biologists

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Han Chen, Xionglei He


Studies of a cell rely on either observational approaches or perturbational/genetic approaches to define the contribution of a gene to specific cellular traits. It is unclear, however, under what circumstances each of the two approaches can be most successful and when they are doomed to fail. By analyzing over 500 complex traits of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae we show that the trait relatedness to fitness determines the performance of observational approaches. Specifically, in traits subject to strong natural selection, genes identified using observational approaches are often highly coordinated in expression, such that the gene-trait associations are readily recognizable; in sharp contrast, the lack of such coordination in traits subject to weak selection leads to no detectable activity-trait associations for any individual genes and thus the failure of observational approaches. We further show that genetic approaches can be successful when the genes responsible for coordinating the target genes of observational approaches are perturbed. However, because the system-level cellular responses to a random mutation affect more or less every gene and consequently every trait, most genetic effects convey no trait-specific funct...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Saccharomyces cerevisiae allergenic extract
Genetic Analysis
Genes, vif
Observation - Diagnostic Procedure
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Cellular Response to Tumor Cell

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