Genes and Health 3rd ed. by David Playfair

By David Playfair

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In the next step, the proteins to be identified are cut into pieces. Just as genome researchers split DNA into more easily sequenced fragments using nucleases as ‘molecular scissors’, protein researchers use proteases, another kind of enzyme, to cleave amino acid chains at precisely defined points. This results in a mixture of variably sized protein fragments known as peptides. Since proteases act in highly specific fashion – the enzyme trypsin, for example, always cleaves the chain after the amino acids arginine or lysine – the peptide mixture obtained is specific for each protein/protease pair.

They play a central role in almost all the processes involved in the life of an organism or – viewed on a smaller scale – a cell: Diverse structures and functions 32 z Structural proteins are responsible for the form and shape of cells. They form the structural framework of the cell and a large part of the outer envelope of the cell. Bodily structures such as tendons and hairs are made of protein. Structural proteins account for most of the protein in our body. z Metabolic proteins, or enzymes, are responsible for the constant synthesis, rearrangement and breakdown of all the substances that are required by, or formed within, the body; they also provide the energy required for these processes.

In the next step, the proteome is considered in relation to its time and place of occurrence and above all in relation to the external influences that act upon it. The appearance or disappearance of proteins in the course of an illness or in response to administration of drugs has already been a subject of investigation for decades, however the search for such changes can now be conducted in far more systematic fashion with the aid of proteomics. e. a comparison between the proteome of a healthy subject and that of a patient with a given disease under the same conditions, can in theory identify and precisely characterise all the differences between the proteome of these two individuals and make them visible at a glance.

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