While the bioinformatics resource-tool iSyTE (integrated Systems Tool for Eye gene discovery) effectively identifies human cataract-associated genes, it is currently based on just transcriptome data, and thus, it is necessary to include protein-level information to gain greater confidence in gene prioritization. Here, we expand iSyTE through development of a novel proteome-based resource on the lens and demonstrate its utility in cataract gene discovery. We applied high-throughput tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) to generate a global protein expression profile of mouse lens at embryonic day (E)14.5, which identified 2371 lens-expressed proteins. A major challenge of high-throughput expression profiling is identification of high-priority candidates among the thousands of expressed proteins. To address this problem, we generated new MS/MS proteome data on mouse whole embryonic body (WB). WB proteome was then used as a reference dataset for performing “in silico WB-subtraction” comparative analysis with the lens proteome, which effectively identified 422 proteins with lens-enriched expression at ≥ 2.5 average spectral counts, ≥ 2.0 fold enrichment (FDR < 0.01) cut-off. These top 20% candidates represent a rich pool of high-priority proteins in the lens including known human cataract-linked genes and many new potential regulators of lens development and homeostasis. This rich information is made publicly accessible through iSyTE (https://research.bioinformatics.udel.edu/iSyTE/), which enables user-friendly visualization of promising candidates, thus making iSyTE a comprehensive tool for cataract gene discovery.
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