Tor Vergata University Rome
The University of Rome Tor Vergata is a major Italian University. The Dept. of Biology includes some 50 faculties covering a wide spectrum of biological projects with a major focus in high throughput technologies, bioinformatics and modern cell biology approaches applied to the elucidation of mechanisms underlying control of cell growth and apoptosis.
The main scientific focus of the group of Molecular Genetics is the elucidation and interpretation of the global protein interaction network, with special emphasis on interactions mediated by families of protein recognition domains. A large fraction (50%) of the effort is devoted to database design, data curation and development of tools for PPI data analysis. The informatic projects complement and support the experimental activities. The group initiated the MINT database that, together with the other major protein interaction databases, has contributed to developing a common standard for data representation (PSI-MI) and has signed an agreement for data exchange (IMEx). On the experimental side the group has recognised expertise in the characterisation of the recognition specificity of domains involved in protein interaction and in the analysis of protein interaction networks. This includes the development of phage display and peptide arrays for the identification of domain partners. These projects have been supported by the FP6 IP Interaction Proteome and the results are now published in a public database (http://mint.bio.uniroma2.it/PepspotDB).
Role in AFFINOMICS: In WP6 the group contributes its expertise in analysis of protein interactions mediated by SH2-containing proteins and Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases and participates in developing technology to use binders in characterisation of dynamic protein complexes formed during signal transduction. This project is built on the extensive set of data obtained during the Interaction Proteome project. The interactions inferred from informatic analysis of the results of peptide array experiments are validated by exploiting the binders to be produced by the partners. A major focus is on the Ras pathway with the goal of identifying yet unknown protein players that could cause or modify the phenotype of common diseases such as Noonan and Leopard syndromes and juvenile leukemias. The group is also contributing to bioinformatics in WP7.