The functional network in predictive biology : predicting phenotype from genotype and predicting human disease from fungal phenotype



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The ability to predict is one of the hallmarks of successful theories. Historically, the predictive power of biology has lagged behind disciplines like physics because the biological world is complex, challenging to quantify, and full of exceptions. However, in recent years the amount of available data has expanded exponentially and biological predictions based on this data become a possibility. The functional gene network is a quantitative way to integrate this data and a useful framework for making biological predictions. This study demonstrates that functional networks capture real biological insight and uses the network to predict both subcellular protein localization and the phenotypic outcome of gene knockouts. Furthermore, I use the functional network to evaluate genetic modules shared between diverse organisms that lead to orthologous phenotypes, many that are non-obvious. I show that the successful predictions of the functional network have broad applicability and implications that range from the design of large-scale biological experiments to the discovery of genes with potential roles in human disease.