Graphic: Leza Berardone
This is the beginning," pronounced J. Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics in Rockville, Md., at a press conference at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in February. "There [are] 30,000 genes, and up to one-quarter of a million proteins [encoded by them] in 100 trillion different combinations--that's how many cells we have. That's why we don't think this is the blueprint for humanity; it's the starting point of understanding how the living cell modifies itself." The "it" Venter refers to is proteomics. Defined in a broad sense, this growing field characterizes proteins by defining when and in which cells they are expressed, how a cell's machinery changes the protein once produced, and ultimately how proteins interact with each other in biochemical pathways. With so many areas to investigate, proteomics, in a professional sense, spells job security.

Photo: ©2000 Lisa Dumont


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