Interrogation of mammalian protein complex structure, function, and membership using genome-scale fitness screens

Joshua Pan, Robin Meyers, Brittany Michel, Nazar Mashtalir, Ann E Sizemore, Jonathan Wells, Seth H Cassel, Francisca Vazquez, Barbara A Weir, William C Hahn, Joseph Marsh, Aviad Tsherniak, Cigall Kadoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein complexes are assemblies of subunits that have co-evolved to execute one or many coordinated functions in the cellular environment. Functional annotation of mammalian protein complexes is critical to understanding biological processes, as well as disease mechanisms. Here, we used genetic co-essentiality derived from genome-scale RNAi- and CRISPR-Cas9-based fitness screens performed across hundreds of human cancer cell lines to assign measures of functional similarity. From these measures, we systematically built and characterized functional similarity networks that recapitulate known structural and functional features of well-studied protein complexes and resolve novel functional modules within complexes lacking structural resolution, such as the mammalian SWI/SNF complex. Finally, by integrating functional networks with large protein-protein interaction networks, we discovered novel protein complexes involving recently evolved genes of unknown function. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the utility of genetic perturbation screens alone, and in combination with large-scale biophysical data, to enhance our understanding of mammalian protein complexes in normal and disease states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-568.e7
JournalCell Systems
Issue number5
Early online date16 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018


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