Human Genome Project for Proteins

Millions of molecular proteins are swimming through our body’s cells and many studies have discovered that these proteins are the main drivers of all human diseases. Scientists are now mapping proteins the way the Human Genome Project mapped genes. As president and co-founder of the Consortium for Top-Down Proteomics, Northwestern’s Neil Kelleher is at the forefront of the Human Proteoform Project. In the podcast below, he explains how this ambitious initiative could lead to more targeted and effective diagnostics and treatments for diseases.

Sequencing the entire human proteome

Just as the Human Genome Project started as a whisper among 20 scientists in Utah in 1988, and by 2002 they had sequenced the entire genome, the Consortium for Top-Down Proteomics, co-founded by Neil Kelleher, has begun an analogous effort, the Human Proteoform Project & Atlas. The goal of this ambition initiative is to sequence the entire human proteome, an effort that will require technical leaps over the next decade.

Understanding disease 

While genes are the blueprint to disease, studying the proteome – the actual protein variants present in the body – reveals an even tighter correlation to complex diseases.

Top-down proteomics

Northwestern Proteomics is leading the development of an advanced analysis method called top-down proteomics. Whereas “bottom-up” leaves major knowledge gaps, top-down proteomics, a protein analysis method that relies on mass spectrometry, examines intact proteoforms with complete molecular specificity.

The Human Proteoform Atlas

The Human Proteoform Atlas (HPfA), was built on behalf of the Consortium for Top-Down Proteomics to house all proteoform information from all biological domains in one central location using an open-source framework. 

Read  the paper about this FAIR community resource for experimentally derived proteoforms.

The technology behind top-down proteomics

Northwestern Proteomics experts develop innovative technologies for complex mixture analysis using Fourier-Transform Mass Spectrometry for targeted applications in proteomics and metabolomics.