Mitochondrial dysfunction and mutations in mitochondrial DNA have been implicated in a wide variety of human diseases, including cancer. In recent years, considerable advances in genomic, proteomic and bioinformatic technologies have made it possible the analysis of mitochondrial proteome, leading to the identification of over 1,000 proteins which have been assigned unambiguously to mitochondria. Defining the mitochondrial proteome is a fundamental step for fully understanding the organelle functions as well as mechanisms underlying mitochondrial pathology. In fact, besides giving information on mitochondrial physiology, by characterizing all the components of this subcellular organelle, the application of proteomic technologies permitted now to study the proteins involved in many crucial properties in cell signaling, cell differentiation and cell death and, in particular, to identify mitochondrial proteins that are aberrantly expressed in cancer cells. An improved understanding of the mitochondrial proteome could be essential to shed light on the connection between mitochondrial dysfunction, deregulation of apoptosis and tumorigenesis and to discovery new therapeutic targets for mitochondria-related diseases.
- mitochondrial proteome