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What Is the Difference Between Genomics and Proteomics?

Researchers in the field of genomics study the genome, the set of inherited material found in every cell of the body.
When thinking of genomics and proteomics, genomics can be thought of as a card catalog, while proteomics are the books in the library.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
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Genomics and proteomics are closely related scientific fields. One is focused on the study of the genome, the set of inherited material found in every cell of the body. The other is the study of proteins and the proteome, the collection of individual proteins in given cells, as well as the entire body. An understanding of one is generally required for the other, but they are two different fields of study.

To separate the study of genomics from proteomics, it helps to borrow the metaphor of a library. The genome is the card catalog, the listing of everything that should be in the library. The proteome is the actual contents of the library. Researchers who study the genome are interested in seeing the traits the genome codes for, understanding the role of DNA that does not appear to code for anything, like cards referencing long-lost books and books that have been checked out, and in looking at how traits are inherited.

People who study proteomics are interested in how the genome actually expresses in the body. They look at how proteins form, what interferes with the production of proteins, how protein variants arise, and related matters. Genomics and proteomics are certainly linked, as the genome provides the blueprints for the proteome. Mapping and researching proteins provides researchers with information about how the same gene can express differently in different individuals, and also adds insight and understanding for researchers interested in learning how proteins behave in the body.

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Both genomics and proteomics require an extensive scientific education. Many people working in both fields have advanced degrees and spend much of their time in the laboratory. Their work can also be applied to fields like pharmacology and medicine, where people put the information they are collecting in the lab into real world use in the field. There are many shared interests between researchers in genomics and proteomics.

Early education for both fields tends to be similar, as people must learn the same basic fundamentals whether they intend to untangle the mysteries of the genome or learn more about the structure of proteins. As people enter more advanced studies, their work starts to diverge and they enter different areas of study. Genomics and proteomics researchers may end up working in different labs and environments, and apply their research in different ways; a genomics researcher, for example, can identify a sequence of DNA coding for the expression of a particular protein, and a proteomics researcher can shed light on what that protein does.

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browncoat
Post 2

That's a pretty good metaphor for the difference between genomics and proteomics.

I think it would be extremely difficult to study one without it relying heavily on knowledge of the other. But it would depend on the aspects you were studying. You could concentrate on the interactions between proteins for example, after they were produced, and that would have less to do with genes.

Or, you could study variations in genetic patterns without looking at the proteins they are coding for.

But generally, and certainly in the study of functional genomics and proteomics I think you'd have to take them both together.

indigomoth
Post 1

I remember a few years ago I was so excited that they had started mapping out the human genome.

Then, they actually finished it, and it turned out that the work was only just starting really.

They are still coming up with discoveries every day from the work done mapping out all the genes, but just because they the genes are there, doesn't mean they always know how they relate to each other, or indeed to the proteins that are studied in proteomics.

They are going to continue to make these discoveries for decades to come. The human genome is enormous, after all. There is still a lot to explore with genome analysis.

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