Proteomics technique opens new frontiers in mobilome research

A large proportion of the genome of most eukaryotic organisms consists of highly repetitive mobile genetic elements. The sum of these elements is called the "mobilome," which in eukaryotes is made up mostly of transposons. Transposable elements contribute to disease, evolution, and normal physiology by mediating genetic rearrangement, and through the "domestication" of transposon proteins for cellular functions. Although 'omics studies of mobilome genomes and transcriptomes are common, technical challenges have hampered high-throughput global proteomics analyses of transposons. In a recent paper, we overcame these technical hurdles using a technique called "proteomics informed by transcriptomics" (PIT), and thus published the first unbiased global mobilome-derived proteome for any organism (using cell lines derived from the mosquito Aedes aegypti). In this commentary, we describe our methods in more detail, and summarise our major findings. We also use new genome sequencing data to show that, in many cases, the specific genomic element expressing a given protein can be identified using PIT. This proteomic technique therefore represents an important technological advance that will open new avenues of research into the role that proteins derived from transposons and other repetitive and sequence diverse genetic elements, such as endogenous retroviruses, play in health and disease.

Trim content

® The Pirbright Institute 2022 | A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 559784. The Institute is also a registered charity.