Peter Schulz-Knappe, Michael Schrader and Hans-Dieter Zucht Pages 697 - 704 ( 8 )
Peptides are a paramount example of how nature diversifies from one single gene to release multiple, regulated functionalities at the desired sites and time. To achieve this, peptides are sequentially generated by a complex network of more than 500 proteases, acting at intracellular sites, upon secretion, in extracellular environments, and, finally, serving (regulated) degradation. This cycle of maturation, activation, and degradation points out that the peptidome is mechanistically linked to the proteome: the distribution between both is regulated by proteases and counter-regulated by protease inhibitors. Given the high diversity of peptides in living systems and their involvement in key regulatory processes, a need for improved peptide discovery, ideally combining peptide sequence identification with peptide profiling, has emerged. Standard proteomic approaches are not suitable for a systematic peptide analysis, since they do not cover the low molecular mass window. The new direction in proteomic research to analyse this "terra incognita" is peptidomics. This novel concept aims at the comprehensive visualization and analysis of small polypeptides, thus covering the mass range between proteomics and metabonomics. The pacemakers for the development of peptidomics technologies are modern mass spectrometry and bioinformatics. They are ideally suited for sensitive and comprehensive peptide analysis, especially in combination with the massive information content of todays genomic and transcriptomic databases. Given the high diversity of native peptides in living systems, clinical chemistry and modern medicine are the prime application areas. The discovery of relevant peptide biomarkers and drug targets will strongly benefit from peptidomics.
Peptidomics, proteomics, biomarker, mass spectrometry, proteases, drug development
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