The human cornea proteome: bioinformatic analyses indicate import of plasma proteins into the cornea

Mol Vis. 2006 May 9;12:451-60.


Increased biochemical knowledge of normal and diseased corneas is essential for the understanding of corneal homeostasis and pathophysiology. In a recent study, we characterized the proteome of the normal human cornea and identified 141 distinct proteins. This dataset represents the most comprehensive protein study of the cornea to date and provides a useful reference for further studies of normal and diseased human corneas. The list of identified proteins is available at the Cornea Protein Database. In the present paper, we review the utilized procedures for extraction and fractionation of corneal proteins and discuss the potential roles of the identified proteins in relation to homeostasis, diseases, and wound-healing of the cornea. In addition, we compare the list of identified proteins with high quality gene expression libraries (cDNA libraries) and Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) data. Of the 141 proteins, 86 (61%) were recognized in cDNA libraries from the corneas of dogs and rabbits, or humans with keratoconus, and 98 (69.5%) were recognized in SAGE data of mouse and human corneas. However, the percentages of identified genes in each of the protein functional groups differed markedly. Thus, exceptionally few of the traditional blood/plasma proteins and immune defense proteins that were identified in the human cornea were recognized in the gene expression libraries of the cornea. This observation strongly indicates that these abundant corneal proteins are not expressed in the cornea but originate from the surrounding pericorneal tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Cornea / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Proteome / metabolism*


  • Blood Proteins
  • Proteome