Scientists at IIT Madras have developed a computational approach to understand the interaction between genes responsible for communication between organs within the body.
Published Date – 02:23 PM, Tuesday – 25 July 23
Chennai: Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have developed a computational approach to understanding the interactions between genes responsible for communication between organs within the body.
Communication between cells in various tissues and organs is critical to multicellular life.
The molecular basis of such communication has long been studied, but genome-wide screens for genes and other biological molecules that mediate tissue-tissue signaling are lacking.
To systematically identify inter-tissue mediators, the team developed multisense, or multilayer/multi-tissue network centrality measures, which enable the exchange of information between organs and tissues in the body and are important for the proper functioning and survival of all organisms.
This inter-organ communication network (ICN), described in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Computational Biology, allows organisms to adapt to changes in their environment, assess their energy reserves and maintain overall well-being.
“Most of the research at ICN has primarily involved experiments on model organisms such as fruit flies, which are not directly applicable to humans and other non-model organisms,” said Prof. B. Ravindran said.
“Furthermore, experimental techniques are time-consuming due to the many interactions between biomolecules in different tissues. As a result, our knowledge of ICN is currently incomplete,” he added.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of ICN in maintaining good health and combating disease, the team created MultiSense, an innovative computational method that leverages available genetic information for various tissues.
â€œThe importance of our multisense method lies in its ability to identify key genes in the ICN in healthy or disease states. At the heart of MultiSense are network science algorithms that measure the importance of genes within a tissue in a hierarchical manner Prof. Manikandan Narayanan said.
The researchers used MultiSense to predict genes closely related to hormones essential for many physiological functions, and revealed changes in gene interactions across different brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Furthermore, this can be extended to understanding cancer metastasis, as cancer originates in one organ and spreads to others over time.
Multisenses may also be applied to other healthy and diseased genetic settings. The MultiCens source code is publicly available, and ongoing work in a web interface and experimental validation of its predictions will further enable a comprehensive understanding of ICN and its role in overall health and well-being, the researchers said.