Proteomics, simply defined, is the study of proteomes. More completely, proteomics is defined as the study of all proteins, including their relative abundance, distribution, posttranslational modifications, functions, and interactions with other macromolecules, in a given cell or organism within a given environment and at a specific stage in the cell cycle. Proteins carry out the biological functions encoded by genes; hence, once the initial stage of genome sequencing and gene discovery is completed, a study of the proteome must be undertaken to address fundamental biological questions. The 3 broad areas are expression proteomics, which catalogues the relative abundance of proteins; cell-mapping or cellular proteomics, which delineates functional protein-protein interactions and organelle-specific protein distribution; and structural proteomics, which characterizes the 3-dimensional structure of proteins. With these approaches, proteins are studied on a global scale using a synergistic combination of powerful, high-throughput technologies, including 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, multidimensional liquid chromatography, and bioinformatics. Mass spectrometry, which provides highly accurate molecular mass measurements, has emerged as the analytical technology of choice for protein identification, characterization, and sequencing. This task has been made considerably easier with the availability of complete, nonredundant, and annotated genome sequence databases for many organisms. This article reviews the area of expression proteomics.
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