Computational evaluation of cellular metabolic costssuccessfully predicts genes whose expression is deleterious

Allon Wagner, Raphy Zarecki, Leah Reshef, Camelia Gochev, Rotem Sorek, Uri Gophna, Eytan Ruppin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Gene suppression and overexpression are both fundamental tools in linking genotype to phenotype in model organisms. Computational methods have proven invaluable in studying and predicting the deleterious effects of gene deletions, and yet parallel computational methods for overexpression are still lacking. Here, we present Expression-Dependent Gene Effects (EDGE), an in silico method that can predict the deleterious effects resulting from overexpression of either native or foreign metabolic genes. We first test and validate EDGE's predictive power in bacteria through a combination of small-scale growth experiments that we performed and analysis of extant large-scale datasets. Second, a broad cross-species analysis, ranging from microorganisms to multiple plant and human tissues, shows that genes that EDGE predicts to be deleterious when overexpressed are indeed typically downregulated. This reflects a universal selection force keeping the expression of potentially deleterious genes in check. Third, EDGEbased analysis shows that cancer genetic reprogramming specifically suppresses genes whose overexpression impedes proliferation. The magnitude of this suppression is large enough to enable an almost perfect distinction between normal and cancerous tissues based solely on EDGE results. We expect EDGE to advance our understanding of human pathologies associated with up-regulation of particular transcripts and to facilitate the utilization of gene overexpression in metabolic engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19166-19171
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - 19 Nov 2013


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesR01AI082376


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