Introduction to Proteomics

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

There's little doubt that proteomics -- the study of an organism's complete complement of proteins -- will have great impact in all areas of the life sciences in the years to come. And the reason is clear. "To really understand biological processes, we need to understand how proteins function in and around cells since they are the functioning units," says Hanno Steen, director of the Proteomics Center at Boston Children's Hospital.

The task of studying the proteome has its share of challenges. One involves the sheer number of proteins that need to be identified. The ~20,000 genes in the human genome can code for at least ten times as many proteins; in extreme cases a single gene alone can code for over 1,000. Another challenge is that amino acids -- the base units of proteins -- are so small. Each amino acid is made from anywhere between 7 and 24 atoms. This is far beyond the reach of even the most powerful microscopes.

Which brings us to the subject of the interactive feature.

How are researchers able to determine the sequence of amino acids that make up proteins? One way is by separating the proteins, breaking them up into smaller pieces, and using mass spectrometers to, in effect, "weigh" each amino acid. Each type of amino acid has a unique mass, making identification relatively straightforward. By identifying and sequencing these smaller pieces, researchers can then determine the identity of the protein they make up.

That's obviously a simple explanation of the process. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our Guide to Sequencing and Identifying Proteins.

Writer/Producer: Rick Groleau
Subject Matter Expert: Hanno Steen, PhD
Designer: Peggy Recinos
Developer: Jeffrey Testa

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital using proteomics:

Rosalyn Adam, PhD
Alan Cantor, MD, PhD
Michaela Fagiolini, PhD
Richard Gregory, PhD
Xi He, PhD
Zhigang He, PhD
Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD
Richard Lee, MD
Marsha Moses, PhD
Keith Solomon, PhD
Hanno Steen, PhD
Judith Steen, PhD

Clifford Woolf, MD, PhD

Related Links

The Steen and Steen Laboratory
The Proteomics Center @ Boston Children's HospitalThe IDDRC Proteomics Core

Request an Appointment

If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

Patient Information
Date of Birth:
Contact Information
Appointment Details
Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
Please complete all required fields

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

Thank you.

Your request has been successfully submitted

You will be contacted within 1 business day.

If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

617-355-6000 +1-617-355-6000
Find a Doctor
Search by Clinician's Last Name or Specialty:
Select by Location:
Search by First Letter of Clinician's Last Name: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Condition & Treatments
Search for a Condition or Treatment:
View allSearch
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO