Genome vs. Proteome

The significance of both genome and proteome is emphasized by the fact that they each have distinct scientific fields dedicated to their study: genomics and proteomics, respectively. While the genome maps an organism's traits and characteristics, the proteome can provide insights into cellular processes and disease mechanisms.

​​​​​​​Image Credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com​​​​​​​Image Credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com​​​​​​​

Introduction to Genome and Proteome

Genome and proteome hold the information needed to build and maintain living organisms, and influence how such organisms develop, function, and react to specific conditions. Understanding genome and proteome, including their differences and how they interact, is crucial for decoding life's complexity.

Understanding the Genome

The genome is often described as the blueprint of an organism as it consists of the entire genetic material. Like the name entails, the genome is made of genes – functional units responsible for encoding proteins as well as having regulatory functions – and make up for an organism's hereditary information.

Sequencing is the method of choice for the identification of genomic material. Continuous advances in genome sequencing techniques, such as Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing (NGS), have revolutionized the understanding of the genome, allowing scientists to interpret the genetic information contained in the DNA.[1]

Sanger sequencing has high accuracy and reproducibility, and it is excellent for small-scale projects. It is however expensive and time-consuming, therefore, for larger projects NGS is generally preferred.

Understanding the Proteome

The proteome includes the entire set of proteins found in an organism at a given moment in time, under specific conditions. Some proteins are expressed at either higher or lower concentrations, while others may be present for long periods of time or be transient, making the proteome highly dynamic and complex.

With each protein playing distinct roles and functions, proteomics provides valuable insights into cellular processes, signaling pathways, and disease mechanisms. Understanding the proteome can shed light on disease mechanisms, help identify potential drug targets, and develop novel therapeutic interventions.

The primary tool for protein identification and characterization is mass spectrometry, particularly with tandem mass spectrometry and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF).

Advances in tandem mass spectrometry and two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC-MS/MS) have contributed to identifying proteins that are extremely hydrophobic or insufficiently expressed. Other analytical techniques include two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, protein microarrays, and more recently, sequencing-based approaches have also been developed.

Key Differences Between Genome and Proteome

To summarize the key differences between genome and proteome in a few words, the genome is static while the proteome is dynamic. The genome remains relatively constant whereas the proteome varies significantly in response to the functional requirements of different cell types and physiological conditions.

If the genome is the blueprint of a living organism, the proteome is the dynamic manifestation of its genetic information. Whilst genetic information remains mostly unchanged throughout an organism's life, protein expression levels vary in response to environmental and physiological changes.

Proteomics 101

Interactions Between the Genome and Proteome

The genome and proteome interact closely and can influence each other. The genome dictates what proteins are synthesized, thus providing the template for their assembly. Genes are transcribed into RNA, which is ultimately translated into proteins. On the other hand, the proteome can feedback to regulate gene expression (i.e., through transcriptional and post-transcriptional modifications).

Applications in Biomedical Research

By helping understand disease mechanisms, identify diagnostic markers, and develop targeted therapies, both genome and proteome have a significant impact in biomedical research. Interestingly, the advent of genomics technology has contributed to the development of new vaccines.

It is in fact possible to identify genes related to disease virulence and the genetic components that support immunity or favorable vaccine responses. The genome sequence identification of organisms can be the starting point for the screening of target molecules. In particular, genome-based approaches may speed up the vaccine development process compared to conventional methods.[2]

The proteome also plays an important role in vaccine development. Proteins on the cell surface are essential for triggering immune responses. Therefore, proteomics-based methods can be used to identify surface-associated immunogenic proteins, which can then serve as potential vaccine candidates.[3]

Proteomics has become an indispensable and important tool for studying biological processes, and there are several applications in which proteome analysis can be used to find potential novel biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment various diseases, including cancer.

Recently, the comparison of protein profiles with data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry was used to identify candidate biomarkers for colorectal cancer. Exosomes from cancer tissues and adjacent normal tissues were isolated, and out of the over 1300 proteins identified, 283 showed differences in expression levels between cancer and normal tissues.[4]

Six exosomal proteins were identified as promising diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets of colorectal cancer. Although further studies are needed, this approach could prove to be a valuable method for early tumor detection.

Future Perspectives and Challenges

The successful understanding of both genome and proteome can have a significant impact on human health through the discovery of disease mechanisms and therapeutic interventions.

While significant progress has been made, challenges remain in genomics and proteomics. These include the need for more efficient sequencing and analysis techniques, improved data integration, and ethical considerations concerning the use of genomic and proteomic data.

Although high-throughput technologies, such as quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, next-generation sequencing or mass spectrometry have already been developed, there is a need of continuous technology improvements to develop more efficient analytical tools.

References

  1. Gasperskaja, E. & Kučinskas, V. (2017). The most common technologies and tools for functional genome analysis. Acta Med Litu, 24, 1-11.10.6001/actamedica.v24i1.3457.
  2. Khan, M. A., Amin, A., Farid, A., Ullah, A., Waris, A., Shinwari, K., Hussain, Y., Alsharif, K. F., Alzahrani, K. J. & Khan, H. (2022). Recent Advances in Genomics-Based Approaches for the Development of Intracellular Bacterial Pathogen Vaccines. Pharmaceutics, 15.10.3390/pharmaceutics15010152.
  3. Sharma, A., Arya, D. K., Sagar, V., Bergmann, R., Chhatwal, G. S. & Johri, A. K. (2013). Identification of potential universal vaccine candidates against group A Streptococcus by using high throughput in silico and proteomics approach. J Proteome Res, 12, 336-46.10.1021/pr3005265.
  4. Zhou, G. Y., Zhao, D. Y., Yin, T. F., Wang, Q. Q., Zhou, Y. C. & Yao, S. K. (2023). Proteomics-based identification of proteins in tumor-derived exosomes as candidate biomarkers for colorectal cancer. World J Gastrointest Oncol, 15, 1227-1240.10.4251/wjgo.v15.i7.1227.

Further Reading 

Last Updated: Apr 2, 2024

Dr. Stefano Tommasone

Written by

Dr. Stefano Tommasone

Stefano has a strong background in Organic and Supramolecular Chemistry and has a particular interest in the development of synthetic receptors for applications in drug discovery and diagnostics. Stefano has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Salerno in Italy.

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