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An -ome is Born

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 19 – In the beginning, there was the genome. Then came the proteome. Now a new ‘-ome’ is poking over the horizon: interactome. 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘ome’ as “mass,” and interact as “to act upon one another.” Jeffrey Schloss, program director for technology development coordination at the National Human Genome Research Institute, defines it as “seeing different pathways talk to each other,” specifically protein pathways. 

Schloss introduced interactome during a talk at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, which ended on Tuesday in San Diego, though he was quick to credit someone else for its introduction as an emerging buzzword: Marc Vidal, a geneticist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Vidal describes an interactome as a “complete sets of proteins’ interactions,” and has designed a two-hybrid system in order to analyze these interactions within C. elegans

Vidal, however, is scrupulous in pointing out that the term did not originate with him, though he thinks he knows the original source. He said the term first appeared in January 1999 in a paper entitled “Grasping at Molecular Interactions and Genetic Networks in Drosophila Melanogaster  Using FlyNets, an Internet Database,” published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research

The authors of that study, a team of French researchers, wrote: “Interaction databases … aim at describing the contents, structure, function and behaviour of what we herein define as the interactome world.”

And so interactome is born, and takes flight. 

What buzzword is next?

According to John Yates, associate professor of cell biology at the Scripps Research Institute and a speaker at the ASHG conference: “Just about any word that people can stick an ‘ome’ on.” 

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