Host Pathogen Networks

The laboratory is engaged in a number of research projects to understand the joint interaction network formed by the interface between human and pathogenic host (either microbial or viral). We applied our PathBLAST comparison tool to study the protein interaction network of Plasmodium falciparum, the pathogenic protozoan that causes malaria. Surprisingly, we found that very few regions of the Plasmodium protein network were homologous to the available protein networks of yeast, fly, worm, or bacteria [Suthram et al. Nature 438(7064):108-12 2005]. This finding does not appear to be caused by noise or lack of coverage in the Plasmodium network.

We have also engaged in collaborations with a number of groups (Howard Fox, Sumit Chanda, Juergen Hass, Peter Uetz) to study protein networks enabling different HIV and herpes-like viruses. These efforts have involved use of our Active Modules approach [Ideker et al.Bioinformatics18: S233. 2002] to identify network regions that are required for HIV infection [Konig et al. Nature 463:813-817 2010; Konig et al. Cell 135(1):49-60 2008; Gersten et al. Journal of Neuroscience 29(40):12467-76 2009] and comparison of herpes virus interaction networks across five herpes-like viral species [Fossum et al. PLoS Pathogens 5(9):e1000570 2009] . This research is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.