The ends of eukaryotic chromosomes are protected by telomeres, nucleoprotein structures that are essential for chromosomal stability and integrity. Understanding how telomere length is controlled has significant medical implications, especially in the fields of aging and cancer. Two recent systematic genome-wide surveys measuring the telomere length of deleted mutants in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have identified hundreds of telomere length maintenance (TLM) genes, which span a large array of functional categories and different localizations within the cell. This study presents a novel general method that integrates large-scale screening mutant data with protein-protein interaction information to rigorously chart the cellular subnetwork underlying the function investigated. Applying this method to the yeast telomere length control data, we identify pathways that connect the TLM proteins to the telomere-processing machinery, and predict new TLM genes and their effect on telomere length. We experimentally validate some of these predictions, demonstrating that our method is remarkably accurate. Our results both uncover the complex cellular network underlying TLM and validate a new method for inferring such networks.
- Network inference