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Technology Discussion—Proteins and Proteomics, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Proteomics is the study of the proteins that a gene produces.  A complete set of genetic information is contained in each cell, and this information provides a specific set of instructions to the body.  The body carries out these instructions via proteins.  Genes encode the genetic information for proteins.

All living organisms are composed largely of proteins. Each protein is a large, complex molecule composed of amino acids.  Proteins have three main cellular functions: 1) they act as enzymes, hormones and antibodies, 2) they provide cell structure, and 3) they are involved in cell signaling and cell communication functions.

Proteins are important to researchers because they are the link between genes and pharmaceutical development.  They indicate which genes are expressed or are being used.  They are important for understanding gene function.  They also have unique shapes or structures.  Understanding these structures and how potential pharmaceuticals will bind to them is a key element in drug design.  Proteomic researchers seek to determine the unique role of each of the hundreds of thousands of proteins in the human body, as well as the relationships that such proteins have with each other and with various diseases.  Microarrays enable the high-speed analysis of these proteins and the discovery of SNPs (see below).


SPOTLIGHT:  Gene Expression:

A gene is a small piece of genetic material written in a code called DNA.  Each gene has within it a set of instructions for making molecules that organisms need to survive.  Gene expression is the transcription of the information contained within the DNA into 1) RNA or 2) messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that are then translated into the proteins that perform most of the critical functions of cells.  Scientists study the kinds and amounts of mRNA produced by a cell to learn which genes are expressed, which in turn provides insights into how the cell responds to its changing needs.



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