In this review, we present an update on the progress of the Human Protein Atlas, with an emphasis on strategies for validating immunohistochemistry-based protein expression patterns and on the possibilities to extend the map of protein expression patterns for cancer research projects. The objectives underlying the Human Protein Atlas include (i) the generation of validated antibodies toward a major isoform of all proteins encoded by the human genome, (ii) creating an information database of protein expression patterns in normal human tissues, in cells, and in cancer, and (iii) utilizing generated antibodies and protein expression data as tools to identify clinically useful biomarkers. The success of such an effort is dependent on the validity of antibodies as specific binders of intended targets in applications used to map protein expression patterns. The development of strategies to support specific target binding is crucial and remains a challenge as a large fraction of proteins encoded by the human genome is poorly characterized, including the approximately one-third of all proteins lacking evidence of existence. Conceivable methods for validation include the use of paired antibodies, i.e. two independent antibodies targeting different and nonoverlapping epitopes on the same protein as well as comparative analysis of mRNA expression patterns with corresponding proteins.
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