The function of a protein is directly dependent on its structure, its interactions with other proteins, and its location within cells, tissues, and organs. The structure and function of proteins is studied on a large scale in proteomics, which enables the identification of protein biomarkers associated with specific disease states and provides potential targets for therapeutic treatment. The understanding of protein structure and mapping of protein location, expression levels, and interactions yield valuable information that can used to infer protein function.
Protein structure is determined by the sequence of amino acids that compose the protein and how the protein folds into more complex shapes.
The determination of three-dimensional protein structures at atomic resolution is useful in the elucidation of protein function, structure-based drug design, and molecular docking.
Mapping of the location and expression level of proteins in specific cells, tissues, and organs aids in the functional study of the proteome. Spatial distribution of proteins is key to protein function, with improper localization or expression triggering various disease states. Mapping projects such as the Human Protein Atlas provide a proteomic resource for biomarker discovery and aid in the understanding of disease pathology. Mapping of the interactome helps define the molecular interactions that occur on a cellular level, assisting in the understanding of protein function and providing valuable potential drug targets for disease.