Defining functions for the full complement of proteins is a grand challenge in the post-genomic era and is essential for our understanding of basic biology and disease pathogenesis. In recent times, this endeavor has benefitted from a combination of modern large-scale and classical reductionist approaches-a process we refer to as "systems biochemistry"-that helps surmount traditional barriers to the characterization of poorly understood proteins. This strategy is proving to be particularly effective for mitochondria, whose well-defined proteome has enabled comprehensive analyses of the full mitochondrial system that can position understudied proteins for fruitful mechanistic investigations. Recent systems biochemistry approaches have accelerated the identification of new disease-related mitochondrial proteins and of long-sought "missing" proteins that fulfill key functions. Collectively, these studies are moving us toward a more complete understanding of mitochondrial activities and providing a molecular framework for the investigation of mitochondrial pathogenesis.
Keywords: mitochondria; multi-omics; orphan proteins; rare disease; systems biochemistry.
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