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Nat Immunol. 2017 May;18(5):583-593. doi: 10.1038/ni.3693. Epub 2017 Mar 6.

Social network architecture of human immune cells unveiled by quantitative proteomics.

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Experimental Systems Immunology, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Bayern, Germany.
Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Università della Svizzera italiana, Bellinzona, Switzerland.
Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.
Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Bayern, Germany.


The immune system is unique in its dynamic interplay between numerous cell types. However, a system-wide view of how immune cells communicate to protect against disease has not yet been established. We applied high-resolution mass-spectrometry-based proteomics to characterize 28 primary human hematopoietic cell populations in steady and activated states at a depth of >10,000 proteins in total. Protein copy numbers revealed a specialization of immune cells for ligand and receptor expression, thereby connecting distinct immune functions. By integrating total and secreted proteomes, we discovered fundamental intercellular communication structures and previously unknown connections between cell types. Our publicly accessible ( proteomic resource provides a framework for the orchestration of cellular interplay and a reference for altered communication associated with pathology.

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