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Human Proteome

In 2010, the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) launched the Human Proteome Project (HPP), creating an international framework for global collaboration, data sharing, quality assurance and enhancing accurate annotation of the genome-encoded proteome. During the subsequent decade, the HPP scientists established collaborations, developed guidelines and metrics, and undertook reanalysis of previously deposited community data, continuously increasing the coverage of the human proteome. Now, they provide evidence for detected expression for 90.4% of the 19,773 predicted proteins coded in the human genome. This knowledge is essential for discerning molecular processes in health and disease.

Expression has now been detected at the protein level for 90.4%of the 19 773 predicted proteins coded in the human genome.

Expression has now been detected at the protein level for 90.4%of the 19 773 predicted proteins coded in the human genome.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our overall understanding of human life,” said HPP team member Professor Christopher Overall, a researcher in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia.

“Whereas the human genome provides a complete ‘blueprint’ of human genes, the human proteome identifies the individual building blocks of life encoded by this blueprint: proteins.”

“Proteins interact to shape everything from life-threatening diseases to cellular structure in our bodies.”

With 90.4% of the 19,773 predicted proteins in the human body now mapped, the HPP scientists have a deeper understanding of how individual proteins interact to influence human health, providing insights into disease prevention and individualized medicine.

Their work may have implications for scientists studying potential treatments for COVID-19.

“In COVID-19, for instance, there are two proteomes involved, that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and that of the infected cells, both of which likely interact with, modify, and change the function of the other,” Professor Overall said.

“Understanding this relationship can shed light on why some cells and individuals are more resilient to COVID-19 and others more vulnerable, providing essential functional information about the human body that genomics alone cannot answer.”

“As many human diseases result from changes in the composition or functions of proteins, mapping the proteome strengthens the foundation for disease diagnosis, prediction of outcomes, treatment, and precision medicine.”

“Humans share 99.9% of their DNA between individuals, yet deficiencies in the proteome ‘parts’ stemming from inherited genetic mutations can lead to genetic diseases, or defective or inadequate immune and cellular responses to environmental, nutritional and infection stressors.”

“Knowing which proteins are key to protection from disease, and the deficiencies in expression or activity that are hallmarks of disease, can inform individualized medicine and the development of new therapies.”

The team’s results were published in the journal Nature Communications and the Journal of Proteome Research.


S. Adhikari et al. 2020. A high-stringency blueprint of the human proteome. Nat Commun 11, 5301; doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19045-9

Gilbert S. Omenn et al. Research on the Human Proteome Reaches a Major Milestone: 90% of Predicted Human Proteins Now Credibly Detected, According to the HUPO Human Proteome Project. J. Proteome Res, published online September 15, 2020; doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.0c00485

This article is based on a press-release provided by the University of British Columbia.

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