Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - PENELOPE (Evolution of the Protein-Interaction Networks: the SH3 network in Yeast)

Penelope, the faithful wife of Ulysses in Homer's Odyssey, wove and un-wove a shroud while awaiting the return of her husband. Taking inspiration from the Greek epic, researchers in the Penelope project are unravelling the complicated web of proteins that make up the cells of living organisms in an attempt to understand the underlying causes of health and diseases. Penelope recruited overall 19 young researchers from 14 different nationalities for whom the project marked a first plunge into multi-disciplinary basic research. All got the opportunity to lay the building blocks for further discovery of how living things operate at the most basic level. At the same time, they were offered multiple tools and training to develop further their career, their skills and their knowledge.

In particular, the Penelope researchers are studying protein interactions in yeast strains as a means of shedding light on the fundamental molecular mechanisms of cellular networks. Nowadays, after the deciphering of the human genome and the advent of "omics" technologies, we know the components of living systems. The next challenge is to understand their interactions. The Penelope spotlight is focused firmly on four yeast species whose cellular structures have evolved over thousand million years. The researchers have characterized their protein interaction networks, specifically those mediated by the Sarc-homology-3 (SH3) domains, whilst looking out for any previously undetected ones. Commonly found in the eukaryotic genomes, SH3 protein networks are involved in many fundamental biological processes, such as cell signalling and regulation.

Comparative analysis across the four genomes allows to investigate how new interactions were added to their networks as well as how others were lost over time. Overall, Penelope has contributed in giving new insights into several biological processes and how they have evolved. A major final collaborative effort is on-going and will be submitted for publication at the end of 2011.

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