The most highly connected proteins in the cell are the most important for its survival. Proteins are traditionally identified on the basis of their individual actions as catalysts, signalling molecules, or building blocks in cells and microorganisms. But our post-genomic view is expanding the protein’s role into an element in a network of protein–protein interactions as well, in which it has a contextual or cellular function within functional modules1,2. Here we provide quantitative support for this idea by demonstrating that the phenotypic consequence of a single gene deletion in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is affected to a large extent by the topological position of its protein product in the complex hierarchical web of molecular interactions.
H. Jeong, S. P. Mason, A.-L. Barabási, Z. N. Oltvai