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Prog Brain Res. 2006;158:41-82.

Methods for proteomics in neuroscience.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA. <>


Proteomics reveals complex protein expression, function, interactions and localization in different phenotypes of neuron. As proteomics, regarded as a highly complex screening technology, moves from a theoretical approach to practical reality, neuroscientists have to determine the most-appropriate applications for this technology. Even though proteomics compliments genomics, it is in sheer contrast to the basically constant genome due to its dynamic nature. Neuroscientists have to surmount difficulties particular to the research in neuroscience; such as limited sample amounts, heterogeneous cellular compositions in samples and the fact that many proteins of interest are hydrophobic proteins. The necessity of exclusive technology, sophisticated software and skilled manpower tops the challenge. This review examines subcellular organelle isolation, protein fractionation and separation using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DGE) as well as multi-dimensional liquid chromatography (LC) followed by mass spectrometry (MS). The methods for quantifying relative gene product expression between samples (e.g., two-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE), isotope-coded affinity tag (ICAT) and iTRAQ) are elaborated. An overview of the techniques used currently to assign post-translational modification status on a proteomics scale is also evaluated. The feasible coverage of the proteome, ability to detect unique cell components such as post-synaptic densities and membrane proteins, resource requirements and quantitative as well as qualitative reliability of different approaches is also discussed. While there are many challenges in neuroproteomics, this field promises many returns in the future.

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