Plants are essential for life on earth. They provide food for essentially all organsims, oxygen for breathing, and they regulate the climate of the planet. Proteins play a key role in controlling all aspects of life including plants. Under the leadership of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a team of scientists has now mapped around 18,000 of all the proteins found in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
"For the first time, we have comprehensively mapped the proteome, that is, all proteins from the tissues of the model plant Arabidopsis," explains Bernhard Kuster. "This allows new insights into the complex biology of plants."
All results of the research work were summarized in a virtual atlas which provides initial answers to the questions:
- How many of the approximately 27,000 genes in the plant exist as proteins (> 18,000),
- where within the organsism they are found (e.g. flower, leaf or stem) and
- in what approximate quantities
All data is freely available in the online database ProteomicsDB, which already contains a protein catalog for the human proteome, which the same team at TUM decoded in 2014.
Our analysis provides initial answers to how many genes exist as proteins (more than 18,000), where they are expressed, in which approximate quantities (a dynamic range of more than six orders of magnitude) and to what extent they are phosphorylated (over 43,000 sites). We present examples of how the data may be used, such as to discover proteins that are translated from short open-reading frames, to uncover sequence motifs that are involved in the regulation of protein production, and to identify tissue-specific protein complexes or phosphorylation-mediated signalling events. Interactive access to this resource for the plant community is provided by the ProteomicsDB and ATHENA databases, which include powerful bioinformatics tools to explore and characterize Arabidopsis proteins, their modifications and interactions.