chapter  9
27 Pages

Protein chips and functional proteomics

All of the proteomics technologies described in this book share one common feature, i.e. that they can be used for the parallel analysis of large numbers of proteins in a single experiment. As in other areas of biological research, the trend towards higher throughput has been matched by a trend towards miniaturization and automation. One only has to look at the success of DNA chips and the impact they have had on sequence analysis and expression profiling to see how crucial such devices have become in large-scale biology (Chapter 1). DNA chips are miniature appliances upon which many cDNA sequences, genomic DNA fragments or oligonucleotides can be arrayed in the form of a grid. The resulting DNA microarray covers an area no bigger than a postage stamp, but it allows thousands of genes to be analyzed in parallel using only a few tens of microliters of analyte. Because only small sample volumes are required, high signal intensities can be achieved with a low background. DNA microarray experiments are therefore very sensitive. Microarray assays are also easy to automate, making them suitable for today’s high-throughput, genome-scale experiments. With the creation of in-house microarray printing services in many academic and industrial settings, global expression profiling has become economical and practical, and the experiments yield immense amounts of useful data. Not surprisingly, there has been a strong drive towards the development of similar devices for the analysis of proteins, i.e. protein chips and protein microarrays.