The Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) is a scientific organization that promotes international collaboration in proteomics. Founded in 2001, the purpose of HUPO is to provide an organized framework for sharing experimental protocols and research techniques. HUPO also strives to promote new technologies and research by presenting awards to researchers who demonstrate distinguished service, research excellence and technological advances in proteomics.1,2
Specific research initiatives within HUPO collectively make up the Human Proteome Project (HPP).1 The HPP begins where the Human Genome Project ended, and the ultimate goal is to identify and map proteins coded by roughly 20,300 protein-coding genes. In a paper published in 2011, Legrain et al.3 estimated that approximately 30% of the human proteome lacks protein-level evidence. For this reason, the HPP is currently working on a gene-centric human proteome map containing information describing protein variability in response to various physiologic and pathologic states.
To complete this goal, researchers involved in a variety of project and research initiatives will continue to use the so-called three working pillars of proteomics, which include mass spectrometry (shotgun and targeted approaches), antibody capture (includes monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies), and bioinformatics tools and knowledge bases.
The HPP has also described goals they are currently undertaking and would like to complete in 3 and 5 years (in 2014 and 2016, respectively).
By 2014, the HPP expects to expand the Human Protein Atlas. Polyclonal antibodies will aid in characterizing the tissue expression and subcellular localization of more than 12,000 gene products. SRM-based spectral libraries will be generated for multiple proteotypic peptides to include, at minimum, one protein product of each of the 20,300 protein-coding genes. So far, this work has already reached 10,000 protein identifications, which are cataloged in the Human Protein Atlas. The HPP also looks forward to generating stably labeled peptide standards.
By 2016, protein analysis will expand to include splice variants and posttranslational modifications. Within 10 years, (2021) renewable protein capture methods and reagents will be available for the characterization of protein tissue expression modifications in human cells, tissues, and organs, as well as in differing developmental stages and variable physiologic and pathologic states.
The HPP is also working to build upon and expand other database repositories present, including ProteomeXchange comprising EBI/PRIDE, ISB/PeptideAtlas, Tranche, GPMDB, and others. In particular, the database neXtProt is currently being developed to become a human protein-centric knowledge platform to connect the results of the HPP with other researchers.
1. Human Proteome Organization, Overview of HUPO, http://www.hupo.org/overview/background/
2. Human Proteome Organization, HUPO Distinguished Awards, http://www.hupo.org/communications/HUPO_awards/
3. Legrain, P., et al. (2011) ‘The human proteome project: Current state and future direction‘, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 10 (7), (p. M111.009993)