A comprehensive Plasmodium falciparum protein interaction map reveals a distinct architecture of a core interactome
We derive a map of protein interactions in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum from conserved interactions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, and Escherichia coli and pool them with experimental interaction data. The application of a clique-percolation algorithm allows us to find overlapping clusters, strongly correlated with yeast specific conserved protein complexes. Such clusters contain core activities that govern gene expression, largely dominated by components of protein production and degradation processes as well as RNA metabolism. A critical role of protein hubs in the interactome of P. falciparum is supported by their appearance in multiple clusters and the tendencies of their interactions to reach into many distinct protein clusters. Parasite proteins with a human ortholog tend to appear in single complexes. Annotating each protein with the stage where it is maximally expressed we observe a high level of cluster integrity in the ring stage. While we find no signal in the trophozoite phase, expression patterns are reversed in the schizont phase, implying a preponderance of parasite specific functions in this late, invasive schizont stage. As such, the inference of potential protein interactions and their analysis contributes to our understanding of the parasite, indicating basic pathways and processes as unique targets for therapeutic intervention.