Protein Fingerprinting *
First came the Human Genome Project and now (drum roll please) the Human Proteome Project. Confused? Not surprising as the Human Proteome Project has not received the kind of press that the Human Genome Project did. Nonetheless it is a major, and potentially important, scientific undertaking. Just as the genome is the complete set of an organism's DNA, the proteome is all the proteins expressed in an organism. Why study the proteome? It is because proteins are the work horses of biological systems, performing all of the biochemical functions necessary to maintain cellular metabolism, architecture, and growth. Different tissues are made up of certain cell types that each have a unique population of proteins that make up the cellular environment. Because of this, different cell types have a unique protein profile, or fingerprint. That profile may change over time, for example babies and elderly adults may have different brain proteomes, or due to other conditions like diseases. Diseases, like cancer, can cause major changes in the protein profile. This is exactly the point of the Human Proteome Project, once you know what is normal versus abnormal you can do a better job of understanding the normal state, and diagnosing (and even treating) disease states. Watch the video to see how one of the participants in the Human Proteome Project, Dr. Joshua LaBaer, Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State, highlights the role of proteomics.
Want to try your own hand at proteomics? If so, the Fish Protein Fingerprinting Kit from Carolina Biological is a good starting place. With this kit you can purify protein extract from different fish samples provided, run the protein out on a gel (as shown in Figure 1), and compare the banding patterns between your samples. Can you identify similarities and differences in these organisms' protein profiles, or fingerprints? Which species have the most similar muscle protein profile? Compare the fish protein profiles against an evolutionary tree. Do the data agree? What explanations can you suggest? You can also try this kit on muscle from other species, which you can buy at the grocery store. Use lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. Another idea is to compare the protein profiles of different parts of the body, like chicken muscle, chicken heart, chicken liver, egg white. Do the different cell types have similar or different protein profiles? A further idea would be to use the kit to investigate if the protein profile of a tissue source changes after being treated with some type of chemical or biochemical compound.
Figure 1. Using gel electrophoresis, you can compare the banding patterns of muscle proteins from different fish species on a gel, like the one shown here. (Photo courtesy of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.)
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2018-10-17
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
CytotechnologistWhen a patient gets sick, his or her doctor will take sample cells from the affected part of his or her body and send them to a lab for testing to figure out what is wrong. This is where the cytotechnologist steps in. The cytotechnologist will take the sample cells, make slides from them, and examine the slides under a microscope. Cytotechnologists are trained to detect abnormalities in cells that come from all body sites in order to to make a diagnosis of cancer or other diseases. These professionals help pathologists and doctors diagnose diseases early, thus saving lives. Read more
BiochemistGrowing, aging, digesting—all of these are examples of chemical processes performed by living organisms. Biochemists study how these types of chemical actions happen in cells and tissues, and monitor what effects new substances, like food additives and medicines, have on living organisms. Read more
Biological TechnicianWhat do the sequencing of the human genome, the annual production of millions of units of life-saving vaccines, and the creation of new drought-tolerant rice varieties have in common? They were all accomplished through the hard work of biological technicians. Scientists may come up with the overarching plans, but the day-to-day labor behind biotechnology advances is often the work of skilled biological technicians. Read more
Medical & Clinical Laboratory TechnicianDoctors need information to decide if a person is healthy or sick, if a baby's earache is bacterial or viral, or if the man next door needs medication to lower his cholesterol and prevent a heart attack. The information often comes in the form of results from lab tests. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians are the people who perform these routine medical laboratory tests, giving the doctors the information needed to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity