The human interactome is the set of protein–protein interactions (the interactome) that occur in human cells. The sequencing of reference genomes, in particular the Human Genome Project, has revolutionized human genetics, molecular biology, and clinical medicine. Genome-wide association study results have led to the association of genes with most Mendelian disorders, and over 140 000 germline mutations have been associated with at least one genetic disease. However, it became apparent that inherent to these studies is an emphasis on clinical outcome rather than a comprehensive understanding of human disease; indeed to date the most significant contributions of GWAS have been restricted to the “low-hanging fruit” of direct single mutation disorders, prompting a systems biology approach to genomic analysis. The connection between genotype and phenotype (how variation in genotype affects the disease or normal functioning of the cell and the human body) remain elusive, especially in the context of multigenic complex traits and cancer. To assign functional context to genotypic changes, much of recent research efforts have been devoted to the mapping of the networks formed by interactions of cellular and genetic components in humans, as well as how these networks are altered by genetic and somatic disease.
Studying the human interactome
Analysis of metabolic networks of proteins hearkens back to the 1940s, but it was not until the late 1990s and early 2000s that computational data-driven genomic analyses to predict functional context and networks of genetic associations appeared in earnest. Since then, the interactomes of many model organisms are considered to have been well characterized, notably the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Interactome and the Drosophila interactome.