Proteomics in evolutionary ecology: linking the genotype with the phenotype

Authors

  • ANGEL P. DIZ,

    1. Departamento de Bioquímica, Genética e Inmunología, Facultad de Biología, Universidade de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
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  • MÓNICA MARTÍNEZ-FERNÁNDEZ,

    1. Unidad de Oncología Molecular, División Biomedicina Epitelial, Dpto. Investigación Básica, Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • EMILIO ROLÁN-ALVAREZ

    1. Departamento de Bioquímica, Genética e Inmunología, Facultad de Biología, Universidade de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
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Emilio Rolán-Álvarez, Fax: 34 986812556; E-mail: rolan@uvigo.es

Abstract

The study of the proteome (proteomics), which includes the dynamics of protein expression, regulation, interactions and its function, has played a less prominent role in evolutionary and ecological investigations in comparison with the study of the genome and transcriptome. There are, however, a number of arguments suggesting that this situation should change. First, the proteome is closer to the phenotype than the genome or the transcriptome, and as such may be more directly responsive to natural selection, and thus closely linked to adaptation. Second, there is evidence of a low correlation between protein and transcript expression levels across genes in many different organisms. Finally, there have been some recent important technological improvements in proteomics methods that make them feasible, practical and useful to address a wide range of evolutionary questions even in nonmodel organisms. The different proteomic methods, their limitations and problems when interpreting empirical data are described and discussed. In addition, the proteomic literature pertaining to evolutionary ecology is reviewed with examples, and potential applications of proteomics in a variety of evolutionary contexts are outlined. New proteomic research trends such as the study of posttranslational modifications and protein–protein interactions, as well as the combined use of the different -omics approaches, are discussed in relation to the development of a more functional and integrated perspective, needed for achieving a more comprehensive knowledge of evolutionary change.

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