Protein localization as a principal feature of the etiology and comorbidity of genetic diseases

Mol Syst Biol. 2011 May 24:7:494. doi: 10.1038/msb.2011.29.


Proteins targeting the same subcellular localization tend to participate in mutual protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and are often functionally associated. Here, we investigated the relationship between disease-associated proteins and their subcellular localizations, based on the assumption that protein pairs associated with phenotypically similar diseases are more likely to be connected via subcellular localization. The spatial constraints from subcellular localization significantly strengthened the disease associations of the proteins connected by subcellular localizations. In particular, certain disease types were more prevalent in specific subcellular localizations. We analyzed the enrichment of disease phenotypes within subcellular localizations, and found that there exists a significant correlation between disease classes and subcellular localizations. Furthermore, we found that two diseases displayed high comorbidity when disease-associated proteins were connected via subcellular localization. We newly explained 7584 disease pairs by using the context of protein subcellular localization, which had not been identified using shared genes or PPIs only. Our result establishes a direct correlation between protein subcellular localization and disease association, and helps to understand the mechanism of human disease progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Comorbidity
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Databases, Protein
  • Disease* / classification
  • Disease* / etiology
  • Disease* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology / methods*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Subcellular Fractions / chemistry
  • Systems Biology / methods*


  • Proteins