New proteomics research promises to revolutionize biomedical discovery

Montral, July 19 2007 Human cells function through the concerted action of thousands of proteins that control their growth and differentiation. Yet, the specific function of most human proteins remains either unknown or poorly characterized. Diseases being often due to aberrations in the function of key cellular proteins, numerous large-scale research initiatives have been launched internationally to crack the function of all human proteins. In a research article that will be published in the July 20th issue of the journal Molecular Cell, a research team led by Dr. Benoit Coulombe from the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montral (IRCM) describes a powerful proteomics approach that promises to have a profound impact on our current understanding of the human proteome and the function of its individual proteins.

In this work, we have taken advantage of an intrinsic property of proteins in order to develop a method that we use to infer a putative function to many previously uncharacterized proteins, said Dr. Coulombe who is very excited by his teams achievement and the future prospects these efforts hold. The unique property of proteins, exploited by this Montreal research team, is the fact that proteins rarely work alone, but rather assemble with other proteins into complexes to concertedly exert their function. The strategy of the IRCM researchers was basically to identify the interaction partners of many proteins of well-known function, using sophisticated proteomics procedures and computational algorithms they developed. The initial guess of the scientists was that proteins interacting together are likely to be partners in the same biological pathway and, consequently, to serve the same (or related) function(s). By systematically identifying the interaction partners of 32 human proteins known to exert specific functions in gene transcription and RNA processing, the Coulombe team has defined an intricate network of 805 high-confidence interactions

Contact: Lucette Thriault
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

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