Characterization of Proteome Variation During Modern Maize Breeding

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2019 Feb;18(2):263-276. doi: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.001021. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


The success of modern maize breeding has been demonstrated by remarkable increases in productivity with tremendous modification of agricultural phenotypes over the last century. Although the underlying genetic changes of the maize adaptation from tropical to temperate regions have been extensively studied, our knowledge is limited regarding the accordance of protein and mRNA expression levels accompanying such adaptation. Here we conducted an integrative analysis of proteomic and transcriptomic changes in a maize association panel. The minimum extent of correlation between protein and RNA levels suggests that variation in mRNA expression is often not indicative of protein expression at a population scale. This is corroborated by the observation that mRNA- and protein-based coexpression networks are relatively independent of each other, and many pQTLs arise without the presence of corresponding eQTLs. Importantly, compared with transcriptome, the subtypes categorized by the proteome show a markedly high accuracy to resemble the genomic subpopulation. These findings suggest that proteome evolved under a greater evolutionary constraint than transcriptome during maize adaptation from tropical to temperate regions. Overall, the integrated multi-omics analysis provides a functional context to interpret gene expression variation during modern maize breeding.

Keywords: Gene Expression; Proteome; RNA SEQ; Statistics; Temperate Adaptation; Transcriptional Regulation; Zea mays; eQTL; iTRAQ; pQTL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Plant Breeding
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Zea mays / genetics
  • Zea mays / growth & development*
  • Zea mays / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins