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Biological Chemistry

Human proteome mapped across the cell

By following more than 12,000 proteins to 30 subcellular compartments, researchers provide a new tool for tracking protein location

by Sarah Everts
May 15, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 20

Images of a cell and where  proteins locate in subcellular compartments.
Credit: Adapted from Science

The places proteins go in the human cell could come into clearer focus thanks to the work of researchers who have tracked 12,003 proteins among 30 subcellular locations where the biomolecules go about their business. A team led by Mathias Uhlén and Emma Lundberg of KTH Royal Institute of Technology examined 22 human cell lines using antibody-based fluorescence microscopy and found that many of the proteins locate in multiple places around the cell (examples in green), from well-known organelles such as the mitochondria to more recently discovered entities such as the aggresome, where a cell’s misfolded proteins are collected for processing before degradation (Science 2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3321). The researchers anticipate their image-based subcellular map, called Cell Atlas, will be a useful tool to refine existing protein-protein interaction networks and to “deconvolute the highly complex architecture of the human cell.”


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