Domain distribution and intrinsic disorder in hubs in the human protein-protein interaction network

Ashwini Patil, Kengo Kinoshita, Haruki Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Intrinsic disorder and distributed surface charge have been previously identified as some of the characteristics that differentiate hubs (proteins with a large number of interactions) from non-hubs in protein-protein interaction networks. In this study, we investigated the differences in the quantity, diversity, and functional nature of Pfam domains, and their relationship with intrinsic disorder, in hubs and non-hubs. We found that proteins with a more diverse domain composition were over-represented in hubs when compared with non-hubs, with the number of interactions in hubs increasing with domain diversity. Conversely, the fraction of intrinsic disorder in hubs decreased with increasing number of ordered domains. The difference in the levels of disorder was more prominent in hubs and non-hubs with fewer domains. Functional analysis showed that hubs were enriched in kinase and adaptor domains acting primarily in signal transduction and transcription regulation, whereas non-hubs had more DNA-binding domains and were involved in catalytic activity. Consistent with the differences in the functional nature of their domains, hubs with two or more domains were more likely to connect distinct functional modules in the interaction network when compared with single domain hubs. We conclude that the availability of greater number and diversity of ordered domains, in addition to the tendency to have promiscuous domains, differentiates hubs from non-hubs and provides an additional means of achieving interaction promiscuity. Further, hubs with fewer domains use greater levels of intrinsic disorder to facilitate interaction promiscuity with the prevalence of disorder decreasing with increasing number of ordered domains. Published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1468
Number of pages8
JournalProtein Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug


  • Domain enrichment
  • Hubs
  • Interaction networks
  • Intrinsic disorder
  • Protein-protein interactions


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