Studying protein–protein interaction networks: a systems view on diseases
In order to better understand several cellular processes, it is helpful to study how various components make up the system. This systems perspective is supported by several modelling tools including network analysis. Networks of protein–protein interactions (PPI networks) offer a way to depict, visualize and quantify the functioning and relative importance of particular proteins in cell function. The toolkit of network analysis ranges from the local indices describing individual proteins (as network nodes) to global indicators of system architecture, describing the total interaction system (as the whole network). We briefly introduce some of these network indices and present a case study where the connectedness and potential functional relationships between certain disease proteins are inferred. We argue that network analysis can be used, in general, to improve databases, to infer novel functions, to quantify positional importance and to support predictions in pathogenesis studies. The systems perspective and network analysis can be of particular importance in studying diseases with complex molecular processes.