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December 2016


Large-scale analyses of protein complexes have recently become available for Escherichia coli and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, yielding 443 and 116 heteromultimeric soluble protein complexes, respectively. We have coupled the results of these mass spectrometrycharacterized protein complexes with the 285 “gold standard” protein complexes identified by EcoCyc. A comparison with databases of gene orthology, conservation, and essentiality identified proteins conserved or lost in complexes of other species. For instance, of 285 “gold standard” protein complexes in E. coli, less than 10% are fully conserved among a set of 7 distantly-related bacterial “model” species. Complex conservation follows one of three models: well-conserved complexes, complexes with a conserved core, and complexes with partial conservation but no conserved core. Expanding the comparison to 894 distinct bacterial genomes illustrates fractional conservation and the limits of co-conservation among components of protein complexes: just 14 out of 285 model protein complexes are perfectly conserved across 95% of the genomes used, yet we predict more than 180 may be partially conserved across at least half of the genomes. No clear relationship between gene essentiality and protein complex conservation is observed, as even poorly conserved complexes contain a significant number of essential proteins. Finally, we identify 183 complexes containing well-conserved components and uncharacterized proteins which will be interesting targets for future experimental studies.


Copyright: © 2015 Caufield et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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