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Keywords:

  • Affinity reagent;
  • Antibody;
  • Proteome-wide projects;
  • Recombinant binder

Alongside MS, antibodies and other specific protein-binding molecules have a special place in proteomics as affinity reagents in a toolbox of applications for determining protein location, quantitative distribution and function (affinity proteomics). The realisation that the range of research antibodies available, while apparently vast is nevertheless still very incomplete and frequently of uncertain quality, has stimulated projects with an objective of raising comprehensive, proteome-wide sets of protein binders. With progress in automation and throughput, a remarkable number of recent publications refer to the practical possibility of selecting binders to every protein encoded in the genome. Here we review the requirements of a pipeline of production of protein binders for the human proteome, including target prioritisation, antigen design, ‘next generation’ methods, databases and the approaches taken by ongoing projects in Europe and the USA. While the task of generating affinity reagents for all human proteins is complex and demanding, the benefits of well-characterised and quality-controlled pan-proteome binder resources for biomedical research, industry and life sciences in general would be enormous and justify the effort. Given the technical, personnel and financial resources needed to fulfil this aim, expansion of current efforts may best be addressed through large-scale international collaboration.