Screen of The Human Protein Atlas website,

Screen of The Human Protein Atlas website,

The Human Protein Atlas project, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, has been set up to allow for a systematic exploration of the human proteome using Antibody-Based Proteomics.

Based on 13 million annotated images, the database maps the distribution of proteins in all major tissues and organs in the human body, showing both proteins restricted to certain tissues, such as the brain, heart, or liver, and those present in all. As an open access resource, it is expected to help drive the development of new diagnostics and drugs, but also to provide basic insights in normal human biology.

20 000 protein coding genes classified

Source: The Human Protein Atlas,

Source: The Human Protein Atlas,“Approximately 20,000 protein coding genes in humans have been analysed and classified using a combination of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and antibody-based profiling,” says the article’s lead author, Mathias Uhlén, Professor of Microbiology at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the director of the Human Protein Atlas program.

“This is important information for the pharmaceutical industry. We show that 70 percent of the current targets for approved pharmaceutical drugs are either secreted or membrane-bound proteins,” Uhlén says. “Interestingly, 30 percent of these protein targets are found in all analysed tissues and organs. This could help explain some side effects of drugs and thus might have consequences for future drug development.”

Gunnar von Heijne: “crucial role for SciLifeLab”

Gunnar von Heijne. Photo: Eva Dalin

Gunnar von Heijne. Photo: Eva Dalin

Gunnar von Heijne, Professor at Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Stockholm University, one of the collaborators on the study. He also works at Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) in Stockholm.

“It’s great to see that Swedish researchers can gather around a project of this size and with such a large impact, and that SciLifeLab has played such a crucial role,” says Gunnar von Heijne.

The Human Protein Atlas

The Human Protein Atlas portal is a publicly available database with millions of high-resolution microscopy images showing the spatial distribution of proteins in 44 different normal human tissues and 20 different cancer types, as well as 46 different human cell lines.  The database has been developed in a gene-centric manner with the inclusion of all human genes predicted from genome efforts.