Synthetic lethal genetic interaction networks define genes that work together to control essential functions and have been studied extensively in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using the synthetic genetic array (SGA) analysis technique (ScSGA). The extent to which synthetic lethal or other genetic interaction networks are conserved between species remains uncertain. To address this question, we compared literature-curated and experimentally derived genetic interaction networks for two distantly related yeasts, Schizosaccharomyces pombe and S. cerevisiae. We find that 23% of interactions in a novel, high-quality S. pombe literature-curated network are conserved in the existing S. cerevisiae network. Next, we developed a method, called S. pombe SGA analysis (SpSGA), enabling rapid, high-throughput isolation of genetic interactions in this species. Direct comparison by SpSGA and ScSGA of approximately 220 genes involved in DNA replication, the DNA damage response, chromatin remodeling, intracellular transport, and other processes revealed that approximately 29% of genetic interactions are common to both species, with the remainder exhibiting unique, species-specific patterns of genetic connectivity. We define a conserved yeast network (CYN) composed of 106 genes and 144 interactions and suggest that this network may help understand the shared biology of diverse eukaryotic species.
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