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Endocrinology. 2017 Feb 1;158(2):239-251. doi: 10.1210/en.2016-1758.

The Human Adrenal Gland Proteome Defined by Transcriptomics and Antibody-Based Profiling.

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Department of Immunology Genetics and Pathology, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Science for Life Laboratory, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.


The adrenal gland is a composite endocrine organ with vital functions that include the synthesis and release of glucocorticoids and catecholamines. To define the molecular landscape that underlies the specific functions of the adrenal gland, we combined a genome-wide transcriptomics approach using messenger RNA sequencing of human tissues with immunohistochemistry-based protein profiling on tissue microarrays. Approximately two-thirds of all putative protein coding genes were expressed in the adrenal gland, and the analysis identified 253 genes with an elevated pattern of expression in the adrenal gland, with only 37 genes showing a markedly greater expression level (more than fivefold) in the adrenal gland compared with 31 other normal human tissue types analyzed. The analyses allowed for an assessment of the relative expression levels for well-known proteins involved in adrenal gland function but also identified previously poorly characterized proteins in the adrenal cortex, such as the FERM (4.1 protein, ezrin, radixin, moesin) domain containing 5 and the nephroblastoma overexpressed (NOV) protein homolog. We have provided a global analysis of the adrenal gland transcriptome and proteome, with a comprehensive list of genes with elevated expression in the adrenal gland and spatial information with examples of protein expression patterns for corresponding proteins. These genes and proteins constitute important starting points for an improved understanding of the normal function and pathophysiology of the adrenal glands.

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