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200 New Proteins Found to be Aiding Body Functions

BANGALORE: A group of scientists, including two from NIMHANS and the Institute of Bioinformatics (IOB), have discovered nearly 200 proteins which belong to 30 organs and perform crucial body functions.

Over 76 scientists, including 46 from India and the rest from institutes in the USA, have together authored the paper titled ‘A Draft Map of the Human Proteome’. Two of them are Dr P Satish Chandra, director of NIMHANS and Dr S K Shankar, emeritus professor of neuropathology at NIMHANS.

Their research has been published in the latest issue of the Nature journal.

Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Dr Chandra said the proteins and proteome scans can help understand the genetic basis of disorders like cerebro-vascular accidents or stroke, tuberculosis, meningitis and epilepsy.

He said that the proteome scan was done for the first time in India using a state-of-art mass spectrophotometer installed at the IOB campus in ITPL.

The Department of Biotechnology has invested over `8.5 crore on this project of which `5 crore was spent on the spectrometry equipment.   “Human beings have an estimated 20,500 known protein-coding genes. To this, we have added 200 and there are more to be discovered,” said Harsha Gowda, scientist at the IOB. The plan is to go deeper into brain tissues as it is a mutual area of interest for NIMHANS and IOB. Dr Chandra said the proteomics of diseased brain tissues and psychiatric disorders will be studied.

Less Tissue for Research

Dr Shankar noted that the lack of access to human tissue was a severely limiting factor in research. “Blood cells, brain tissue and liver cells are needed and we can get it only from a tissue bank. NIMHANS is the only institute which has a brain bank that can supply such human material. Such experiments cannot be done on animals as there is 10-15 per cent difference in genome of humans and lower animals,” he explained.

The tissue is required for proteomic studies of schizophrenia, alcoholism, Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions, he said.

For the research, the scientists used liver and brain tissue from humans, adults and foetuses along with blood cells. “We will experiment on more tissues later,” Dr Shankar added.

While 50 per cent of the analysis is being done at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, the other half is being carried out at the two institutes in the city.

What are proteins?

Proteins are complex molecules that perform various functions in the body. Genes go into the production of proteins through complex processes. A proteome is the entire set of proteins expressed by a genome which is the genetic material of any organism. Source: New Indian Express

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