Prediction and Analysis of the Protein Interactome in Pseudomonas aeruginosa to Enable Network-Based Drug Target Selection

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is a ubiquitous opportunistic pathogen that is capable of causing highly problematic, chronic infections in cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. With the increased prevalence of multi-drug resistant PA, the conventional “one gene, one drug, one disease” paradigm is losing effectiveness. Network pharmacology, on the other hand, may hold the promise of discovering new drug targets to treat a variety of PA infections. However, given the urgent need for novel drug target discovery, a PA protein-protein interaction (PPI) network of high accuracy and coverage, has not yet been constructed. In this study, we predicted a genome-scale PPI network of PA by integrating various genomic features of PA proteins/genes by a machine learning-based approach. A total of 54,107 interactions covering 4,181 proteins in PA were predicted. A high-confidence network combining predicted high-confidence interactions, a reference set and verified interactions that consist of 3,343 proteins and 19,416 potential interactions was further assembled and analyzed. The predicted interactome network from this study is the first large-scale PPI network in PA with significant coverage and high accuracy. Subsequent analysis, including validations based on existing small-scale PPI data and the network structure comparison with other model organisms, shows the validity of the predicted PPI network. Potential drug targets were identified and prioritized based on their essentiality and topological importance in the high-confidence network. Host-pathogen protein interactions between human and PA were further extracted and analyzed. In addition, case studies were performed on protein interactions regarding anti-sigma factor MucA, negative periplasmic alginate regulator MucB, and the transcriptional regulator RhlR. A web server to access the predicted PPI dataset is available at