Proteomics for systems toxicology


Current toxicology studies frequently lack measurements at molecular resolution to enable a more mechanism-based and predictive toxicological assessment. Recently, a systems toxicology assessment framework has been proposed, which combines conventional toxicological assessment strategies with system-wide measurement methods and computational analysis approaches from the field of systems biology. Proteomic measurements are an integral component of this integrative strategy because protein alterations closely mirror biological effects, such as biological stress responses or global tissue alterations. Here, we provide an overview of the technical foundations and highlight select applications of proteomics for systems toxicology studies. With a focus on mass spectrometry-based proteomics, we summarize the experimental methods for quantitative proteomics and describe the computational approaches used to derive biological/mechanistic insights from these datasets. To illustrate how proteomics has been successfully employed to address mechanistic questions in toxicology, we summarized several case studies. Overall, we provide the technical and conceptual foundation for the integration of proteomic measurements in a more comprehensive systems toxicology assessment framework. We conclude that, owing to the critical importance of protein-level measurements and recent technological advances, proteomics will be an integral part of integrative systems toxicology approaches in the future.