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J Proteome Res. 2014 Aug 1;13(8):3854-5. doi: 10.1021/pr500572z. Epub 2014 Jul 16.

Analyzing the first drafts of the human proteome.

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‡Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Melchor Fernandez Almagro, 3, Madrid 28029, Spain.


This letter analyzes two large-scale proteomics studies published in the same issue of Nature. At the time of the release, both studies were portrayed as draft maps of the human proteome and great advances in the field. As with the initial publication of the human genome, these papers have broad appeal and will no doubt lead to a great deal of further analysis by the scientific community. However, we were intrigued by the number of protein-coding genes detected by the two studies, numbers that far exceeded what has been reported for the multinational Human Proteome Project effort. We carried out a simple quality test on the data using the olfactory receptor family. A high-quality proteomics experiment that does not specifically analyze nasal tissues should not expect to detect many peptides for olfactory receptors. Neither of the studies carried out experiments on nasal tissues, yet we found peptide evidence for more than 100 olfactory receptors in the two studies. These results suggest that the two studies are substantially overestimating the number of protein coding genes they identify. We conclude that the experimental data from these two studies should be used with caution.


Nature; human proteome; olfactory receptors; protein coding genes; proteomics

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