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EMBO Rep. 2007 Dec;8(12):1135-41.

Towards completion of the Earth's proteome.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, Ottawa Health Research Institute, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8L6, Canada.


New protein sequences are deposited in databases at an accelerating pace; however, many of these are homologous to known proteins and could be considered redundant. If all historical releases of the protein database are analysed using the original sequence-clustering procedure described here, the fraction of newly sequenced proteins that are redundant is increasing. We interpret this as an indication that the sequencing of the Earth's proteome--the complete set of proteins on Earth--is approaching completion. We estimate the approximate size of the Earth's proteome to be 5 million sequences, most of which will be identified during the next 5 years. As the Earth's proteome nears completion, cluster analysis of the protein database will become essential to identify under-explored taxa to which future sequencing efforts should be directed and to focus research on protein families without experimental characterization.

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