Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A protein atlas of the brain


Max Planck scientists quantify all proteins of the mouse brain

Just as in the Middle Ages when there were still many uncharted areas on Earth, researchers today are aware that there is still a great deal to learn about cells in our microcosm. But instead of sextants and compasses, researchers nowadays use modern methods such as mass spectrometry to look into the world of protein molecules.

What looks like an island is actually a schematic representation of a mouse brain. Researchers have now analyzed the mouse brain proteome and summarized the data in an atlas.

© MPI of Biochemistry/ K. Scharma

Neuroscientists are focussed particularly on resolving brain complexity with its billions of specialized cells. To understand the brain’s functions, scientists from the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry in Martinsried and Experimental Medicine in Göttingen have for the first time quantified the entire set of proteins ‒ the proteome ‒ in the adult mouse brain. The information about which proteins and how many of them are found in the various cell types and regions has been summarized in a protein atlas.

The brain consists of hundreds of billions of interconnected cells which communicate with one another. Different cell types specialize in different functions. Nerve cells transmit and process stimuli from outside; distinct glial cells supply them with nutrients, regulate the flow of blood in the brain, help in isolating nerve fibres and perform tasks in the immune system.

Cells are comprised of proteins which are the functional building blocks. They act as small molecular machines and give the cell its structure. The information for synthesis of protein molecules is encoded in DNA and RNA; biomolecules which have been extensively examined in the brain.

“Up to now, however, it was not known which and how many proteins are produced in the different, highly specialized cells or even how the numbers of proteins in the individual regions differ”, explains neuroscientist Mikael Simons. “To examine this, we needed modern measuring and analysis methods in order to be able to record and evaluate these enormous numbers of proteins.”

Together with protein research specialists, a team headed by Matthias Mann in Martinsried, the scientists further developed the mass spectrometry technology for in-depth profiling of brain proteins in a rapid, reproducible and a quantitative fashion.

They were able to show that there are around 13,000 different proteins in the adult mouse brain. The quantity of proteins in the different cell types and brain regions, and how they differ from one another can now be found in the recently established protein atlas at The protein data presented there from five different cell types and ten regions in the mouse brain constitute the most comprehensive collection to date.

This deep proteome investigation should serve as a rich resource for analyses of brain development and function. “Surprisingly, only 10 per cent of all proteins are cell type-specific”, explains Kirti Sharma, lead author of the study. “These cell-specific proteins are mostly found on the surface of the cell.”

The large majority – 90 per cent of all proteins – are found in all cell types. As in a satellite view of previously uncharted landscapes, the researchers have created a protein atlas based on the most comprehensive data collection that should help in the development of new treatments for alleviating brain diseases.


Dr. Christiane Menzfeld
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried
Phone: +49 89 8578-2824

Fax: +49 89 8578-3777


Prof. Dr. Matthias Mann
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried
Phone: +49 89 8578-2557

Fax: +49 89 8578-2219


Original publication
K. Sharma, S. Schmitt, C. G. Bergner, S. Tyanova, N. Kannaiyan, N. Manrique-Hoyos, K. Kongi, L. Cantuti, U.K. Hanisch, M.A. Philips, M.J. Rossner, M. Mann & M. Simons

Cell type- and brain region-resolved mouse brain proteome.

Nature Neuroscience, November 2015 DOI: 10.1038/nn.4160

Dr. Christiane Menzfeld | Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>