Phylogenetic profiling in eukaryotes: The effect of species, orthologous group, and interactome selection on protein interaction prediction

Eva S. Deutekom, Teunis J.P. van Dam, Berend Snel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Phylogenetic profiling in eukaryotes is of continued interest to study and predict the functional relationships between proteins. This interest is likely driven by the increased number of available diverse genomes and computational methods to infer orthologies. The evaluation of phylogenetic profiles has mainly focussed on reference genome selection in prokaryotes. However, it has been proven to be challenging to obtain high prediction accuracies in eukaryotes. As part of our recent comparison of orthology inference methods for eukaryotic genomes, we observed a surprisingly high performance for predicting interacting orthologous groups. This high performance, in turn, prompted the question of what factors influence the success of phylogenetic profiling when applied to eukaryotic genomes. Here we analyse the effect of species, orthologous group and interactome selection on protein interaction prediction using phylogenetic profiles. We select species based on the diversity and quality of the genomes and compare this supervised selection with randomly generated genome subsets. We also analyse the effect on the performance of orthologous groups defined to be in the last eukaryotic common ancestor of eukaryotes to that of orthologous groups that are not. Finally, we consider the effects of reference interactome set filtering and reference interactome species. In agreement with other studies, we find an effect of genome selection based on quality, less of an effect based on genome diversity, but a more notable effect based on the amount of information contained within the genomes. Most importantly, we find it is not merely selecting the correct genomes that is important for high prediction performance. Other choices in meta parameters such as orthologous group selection, the reference species of the interaction set, and the quality of the interaction set have a much larger impact on the performance when predicting protein interactions using phylogenetic profiles. These findings shed light on the differences in reported performance amongst phylogenetic profiles approaches, and reveal on a more fundamental level for which types of protein interactions this method has most promise when applied to eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0251833
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4 April
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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