Molecular pathogenomic analysis of the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus has been conducted for a decade. Much has been learned as a consequence of the confluence of low-cost DNA sequencing, microarray technology, high-throughput proteomics, and enhanced bioinformatics. These technical advances, coupled with the availability of unique bacterial strain collections, have facilitated a systems biology investigative strategy designed to enhance and accelerate our understanding of disease processes. Here, we provide examples of the progress made by exploiting an integrated genome-wide research platform to gain new insight into molecular pathogenesis. The studies have provided many new avenues for basic and translational research.
Molecular biology and medical genetics, one of the most dynamically developing fields of medicine, nowadays is also a base for development of basic and clinical research in internal medicine. Understanding of crucial genetic pathomechanisms of many common diseases was possible due to the newest and modern molecular methods and tools. Moreover, development of genetics also made possible the discovery and understanding of the pathogenesis of many different diseases. However, not so long ago, we discovered precise pathomechanisms leading from damage of a single gene to a related pathological phenotype. Now, we have just started to explain molecular mechanisms of complex, multifactorial diseases. To achieve these goals, we need permanent development of genetic tests, genomics and proteomics. After fulfilling these conditions, we will get a chance to implement all molecular and genetic hopes, particularly their practical application in the clinic.
medical genetics; genetic testing; internal medicine
The FANCJ family of DNA helicases is emerging as an important group of proteins for the prevention of human disease, cancer, and chromosomal instability. FANCJ was identified by its association with breast cancer, and is implicated in Fanconi Anemia. Proteins with sequence similarity to FANCJ are important for maintenance of genomic stability. Mutations in genes encoding proteins related to FANCJ, designated ChlR1 in human and Chl1p in yeast, result in sister chromatid cohesion defects. Nematodes mutated in dog-1 show germline as well as somatic deletions in genes containing guanine-rich DNA. Rtel knockout mice are embryonic lethal, and embryonic stem cells show telomere loss and chromosomal instability. FANCJ also shares sequence similarity with human XPD and yeast RAD3 helicases required for nucleotide excision repair. The recently solved structure of XPD has provided new insight to the helicase core and accessory domains of sequence-related Superfamily 2 helicases. The functions and roles of members of the FANCJ-like helicase family will be discussed.
Fanconi anemia; DNA repair; helicase; genomic stability; G quadruplex; FANCJ; XPD; CHL1; CHLR1; DOG1; RTEL
The explosion of biomedical data, both on the genomic and proteomic side as well as clinical data, will require complex integration and analysis to provide new molecular variables to better understand the molecular basis of phenotype. Currently, much data exist in silos and is not analyzed in frameworks where all data are brought to bear in the development of biomarkers and novel functional targets. This is beginning to change. Network biology approaches, which emphasize the interactions between genes, proteins and metabolites provide a framework for data integration such that genome, proteome, metabolome and other -omics data can be jointly analyzed to understand and predict disease phenotypes. In this review, recent advances in network biology approaches and results are identified. A common theme is the potential for network analysis to provide multiplexed and functionally connected biomarkers for analyzing the molecular basis of disease, thus changing our approaches to analyzing and modeling genome- and proteome-wide data.
network biology; bioinformatics
Neuropsychiatric disorders represent the second largest cause of morbidity worldwide. These disorders have complex etiology and patho-physiology. The major lacunae in the biology of the psychiatric disorders include genomics, biomarkers and drug discovery, for the early detection of the disease, and have great application in the clinical management of disease. Indian psychiatrists and scientists played a significant role in filling the gaps. The present annotation provides in depth information related to research contributions on the molecular biology research in neuropsychiatric disorders in India. There is a great need for further research in this direction as to understand the genetic association of the neuropsychiatric disorders; molecular biology has a tremendous role to play. The alterations in gene expression are implicated in the pathogenesis of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including drug addiction and depression. The development of transgenic neuropsychiatric animal models is of great thrust areas. No studies from India in this direction. Biomarkers in neuropsychiatric disorders are of great help to the clinicians for the early diagnosis of the disorders. The studies related to gene-environment interactions, DNA instability, oxidative stress are less studied in neuropsychiatric disorders and making efforts in this direction will lead to pioneers in these areas of research in India. In conclusion, we provided an insight for future research direction in molecular understanding of neuropsychiatry disorders.
Depression; bipolar disorders; sexual dysfunction; autism; dementia; trace metals; DNA conformation; DNA stability; cell death; D1 receptors; genes; pedigree; enzymes; diet; mutations
Kidney diseases manifest in progressive loss of renal function, which ultimately leads to complete kidney failure. The mechanisms underlying the origins and progression of kidney diseases are not fully understood. Multiple factors involved in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases have made the traditional candidate gene approach of limited value toward full understanding of the molecular mechanisms of these diseases. A systems biology approach that integrates computational modeling with large-scale data gathering of the molecular changes could be useful in identifying the multiple interacting genes and their products that drive kidney diseases. Advances in biotechnology now make it possible to gather large data sets to characterize the role of the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome in kidney diseases. When combined with computational analyses, these experimental approaches will provide a comprehensive understanding of the underlying biological processes. Multiscale analysis that connects the molecular interactions and cell biology of different kidney cells to renal physiology and pathology can be utilized to identify modules of biological and clinical importance that are perturbed in disease processes. This integration of experimental approaches and computational modeling is expected to generate new knowledge that can help to identify marker sets to guide the diagnosis, monitor disease progression, and identify new therapeutic targets.
cell signaling; gene transcription; kidney disease; microarray analysis; protein interaction
Welcome to the Journal of Neuroinflammation, an open-access, peer-reviewed, online journal that focuses on innate immunological responses of the central nervous system, involving microglia, astrocytes, cytokines, chemokines, and related molecular processes. 'Neuroinflammation' is an encapsulization of the idea that microglial and astrocytic responses and actions in the central nervous system have a fundamentally inflammation-like character, and that these responses are central to the pathogenesis and progression of a wide variety of neurological disorders. This concept has its roots in the discoveries of inflammatory cytokines and proteins in the plaques of Alzheimer disease, and these ideas have been extended to other neurodegenerative diseases, to ischemic/toxic diseases, to tumor biology and even to normal brain development. The Journal of Neuroinflammation, published by BioMed Central, will bring together work focusing on microglia, astrocytes, cytokines, chemokines, and related molecular processes in the central nervous system. All articles published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation will be immediately listed in PubMed, and access to published articles will be universal and free through the internet.
It is with great pleasure and honor that I introduce Biomatter, a new international and transdisciplinary journal for the publication of peer-reviewed original research exploring the clinical and laboratory investigations in the field of science and application of biomaterials.
Recent developments in medicine have resulted in a considerable and unprecedented increase in lifespan. The invention of artificial implants made from biomaterials in the 1960s created a whole new scientific field and resulted in revolutionary technologies that strongly contributed to this increase in life expectancy. Since then, many exciting advancements shaped modern biomaterials science, which itself originated several new fields, with biology playing a major role and where the separation between engineering and health sciences can hardly be distinguished. Current and future research efforts in this field are believed to result in new therapeutic approaches to prevent and treat debilitating and life-threatening diseases.Biomatter intends to be on the forefront of disclosing these developments.
Biomatter appears as a forum to discuss and disclose the relevant advancements in the exciting and fast-growing field of science and application of biomaterials. It is widely anticipated that current and upcoming advances will soon result in products with potential to dramatically change the way in which we live, probably with yet-unimaginable future implications in healthcare.
The premise of today’s drug development is that the mechanism of a disease is highly dependent upon underlying signaling and cellular pathways. Such pathways are often composed of complexes of physically interacting genes, proteins, or biochemical activities coordinated by metabolic intermediates, ions, and other small solutes and are investigated with molecular biology approaches in genomics, proteomics, and metabonomics. Nevertheless, the recent declines in the pharmaceutical industry’s revenues indicate such approaches alone may not be adequate in creating successful new drugs. Our observation is that combining methods of genomics, proteomics, and metabonomics with techniques of bioimaging will systematically provide powerful means to decode or better understand molecular interactions and pathways that lead to disease and potentially generate new insights and indications for drug targets. The former methods provide the profiles of genes, proteins, and metabolites, whereas the latter techniques generate objective, quantitative phenotypes correlating to the molecular profiles and interactions. In this paper, we describe pathway reconstruction and target validation based on the proposed systems biologic approach and show selected application examples for pathway analysis and drug screening.
iomarker discovery; drug discovery; high-content screen; high-throughput screen; RNAi; system bioinformatics and bioimaging; target validation
Campylobacter is the leading cause of foodborne diseases worldwide. Bacteriophages (phages) are naturally occurring predators of bacteria, ubiquitous in the environment, with high host specificity and thus considered an appealing option to control bacterial pathogens. Nevertheless for an effective use of phages as antimicrobial agents, it is important to understand phage biology which renders crucial the analysis of phage genomes and proteomes. The lack of sequence data from Campylobacter phages adds further importance to these studies.
vB_CcoM-IBB_35 is a broad lytic spectrum Myoviridae Campylobacter phage with high potential for therapeutic use. The genome of this phage was obtained by pyrosequencing and the sequence data was further analyzed. The proteomic analysis was performed by SDS-PAGE and Mass spectrometry.
Results and conclusions
The DNA sequence data of vB_CcoM-IBB_35 consists of five contigs for a total of 172,065 bp with an average GC content of 27%. Attempts to close the gaps between contigs were unsuccessful since the DNA preparations appear to contain substances that inhibited Taq and ϕ29 polymerases. From the 210 identified ORFs, around 60% represent proteins that were not functionally assigned. Homology exists with members of the Teequatrovirinae namely for T4 proteins involved in morphogenesis, nucleotide metabolism, transcription, DNA replication and recombination. Tandem mass spectrometric analysis revealed 38 structural proteins as part of the mature phage particle.
Genes encoding proteins involved in the carbohydrate metabolism along with several incidences of gene duplications, split genes with inteins and introns have been rarely found in other phage genomes yet are found in this phage. We identified the genes encoding for tail fibres and for the lytic cassette, this later, expressing enzymes for bacterial capsular polysaccharides (CPS) degradation, which has not been reported before for Campylobacter phages.
Bacteriophage; Genome; Campylobacter
Enormous strides have recently been made in our understanding of the biology and pathobiology of mitochondria. Many diseases have been identified as caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, and many pharmaceuticals have been identified as previously unrecognized mitochondrial toxicants. A much smaller but growing literature indicates that mitochondria are also targeted by environmental pollutants. We briefly review the importance of mitochondrial function and maintenance for health based on the genetics of mitochondrial diseases and the toxicities resulting from pharmaceutical exposure. We then discuss how the principles of mitochondrial vulnerability illustrated by those fields might apply to environmental contaminants, with particular attention to factors that may modulate vulnerability including genetic differences, epigenetic interactions, tissue characteristics, and developmental stage. Finally, we review the literature related to environmental mitochondrial toxicants, with a particular focus on those toxicants that target mitochondrial DNA. We conclude that the fields of environmental toxicology and environmental health should focus more strongly on mitochondria.
contaminants; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial toxicity; mitochondrial disease.
Twenty five years after the discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS, there is still no effective vaccine and no cure for this disease. HIV susceptibility shows a substantial degree of individual heterogeneity, much of which can be conferred by host genetic variation. In an effort to discover host factors required for HIV replication, identify critical pathogenic pathways, and reveal the full armament of host defenses, there has been a shift from candidate gene studies to unbiased genome wide genetic and functional studies. However, the number of securely identified host factors involved in HIV disease remains small, explaining only ~15–20% of the observed heterogeneity – most of which is attributable to HLA. Multidisciplinary approaches integrating genetic epidemiology to systems biology will be required to fully understand viral-host interactions to effectively combat HIV/AIDS.
Polycystic kidney diseases (PKDs) represent a large group of progressive renal disorders characterized by the development of renal cysts leading to end-stage renal disease. Enormous strides have been made in understanding the pathogenesis of PKDs and the development of new therapies. Studies of autosomal dominant and recessive polycystic kidney diseases converge on molecular mechanisms of cystogenesis, including ciliary abnormalities and intracellular calcium dysregulation, ultimately leading to increased proliferation, apoptosis and dedifferentiation. Here we review the pathobiology of PKD, highlighting recent progress in elucidating common molecular pathways of cystogenesis. We discuss available models and challenges for therapeutic discovery as well as summarize the results from preclinical experimental treatments targeting key disease-specific pathways.
Polycystic kidney disease; cilium; cell cycle; cAMP; proliferation; adhesion; therapies
Plant pathogenic bacteria cause diseases in important crops and seriously and negatively impact agricultural production. Therefore, an understanding of the mechanisms by which plants resist bacterial infection at the stage of the basal immune response or mount a successful specific R-dependent defense response is crucial since a better understanding of the biochemical and cellular mechanisms underlying these interactions will enable molecular and transgenic approaches to crops with increased biotic resistance. In recent years, proteomics has been used to gain in-depth understanding of many aspects of the host defense against pathogens and has allowed monitoring differences in abundance of proteins as well as posttranscriptional and posttranslational processes, protein activation/inactivation, and turnover. Proteomics also offers a window to study protein trafficking and routes of communication between organelles. Here, we summarize and discuss current progress in proteomics of the basal and specific host defense responses elicited by bacterial pathogens.
Establishing more effective treatment of pancreatic cancer requires an understanding of the molecular events leading to the onset and progression of this disease. The biology of tumorigenesis may be better understood if cell type–specific genes in the pancreas are more recognized. This recognition may be as important as discovering a disease-responsible gene. Identification of a ductal epithelium–specific gene can contribute not only to our knowledge of pancreatic tumorigenesis, tumor marker discovery, and effective drug targeting but also is crucial for making a reliable animal model.
We used the x-Profiler engine online to compare the SAGE (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression) libraries derived from 2 short-term cultures of normal human ductal epithelial cells from the pancreas against 34 other SAGE libraries generated from other normal human tissues to identify the best candidate gene specific for the ductal epithelium of the pancreas.
We identified 3 genes, ribosomal protein L38 (RPL38), uridine phosphorylase (UPP1), and FOS-like antigen-1 (FOSL1), predominantly expressed in the pancreatic ductal epithelium. The expression patterns of these 3 genes were confirmed by virtual Northern analysis, semi-quantitative RT-PCR, and in situ hybridization.
Although the expressions of these 3 genes are not completely restricted to the ductal epithelium of the pancreas, we showed that they have more specific expression patterns than CK19 and MUC1. We also demonstrated that all 3 genes are highly expressed in a panel of pancreatic cancer cell lines and can potentially be useful in tumor targeting or as tumor markers.
SAGE; pancreas-specific; RPL38; FOSL1; UPP1
The identification of new risk factors for specific diseases is an enduring theme in medical research. Advances in molecular biology, genetics, and computational biology are accelerating the pace of this work. The research seeks to increase our understanding of the causes of diseases, but there is also hope that the recognition of new risk factors will lead to improved methods for identifying persons who are in the early stages of, or at high risk for, the diseases of concern. Research has shown, however, that a genomic biomarker must have a much stronger association with the disease outcome than we ordinarily see in etiologic research if it is to provide a basis for early diagnosis or prediction in individual patients. However, even if the literature contains ~150,000 reports of disease-associated molecular markers, there are still very few validated biomarkers of proven and robust clinical utility. At present there is no established, standardized means for validating the association between a marker (or set of markers) and clinical outcomes. The Regulatory Authorities have undertaken a number of initiatives in order to enhance the use of biomarkers in drug development, to promote a more informed drug development and maximise the benefit of innovative medicines to the patients.
genetic testing, Genomic Biomarkers (GBs), validation, qualification, regulation, pharmacogenomics.
As an experimental system, Caenorhabditis elegans, offers a unique opportunity to interrogate in vivo the genetic and molecular functions of human disease-related genes. For example, C. elegans has provided crucial insights into fundamental biological processes such as cell death and cell fate determinations, as well as pathological processes such as neurodegeneration and microbial susceptibility. The C. elegans model has several distinct advantages including a completely sequenced genome that shares extensive homology with that of mammals, ease of cultivation and storage, a relatively short lifespan and techniques for generating null and transgenic animals. However, the ability to conduct unbiased forward and reverse genetic screens in C. elegans remains one of the most powerful experimental paradigms for discovering the biochemical pathways underlying human disease phenotypes. The identification of these pathways leads to a better understanding of the molecular interactions that perturb cellular physiology, and forms the foundation for designing mechanism-based therapies. To this end, the ability to process large numbers of isogenic animals through automated work stations suggests that C. elegans, manifesting different aspects of human disease phenotypes, will become the platform of choice for in vivo drug discovery and target validation using high-throughput/content screening technologies.
C. elegans; serpin; necrosis; cell death; disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) constitutes a worldwide health problem. There is currently an urgent and unmet need for the development of small molecule therapeutics capable of blocking and/or reversing the progression of the disorder. Recent studies have greatly illuminated our understanding of the multiple pathogenic processes associated with COPD. Of paramount importance is the key role played by proteases, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and inflammation. Insights gained from these studies have made possible the exploration of new therapeutic approaches.
An overview of major developments in COPD research with emphasis on low molecular weight neutrophil elastase inhibitors is described in this review.
Great strides have been made toward our understanding of the biochemical and cellular events associated with COPD. However, our knowledge regarding the inter-relationships among the multiple pathogenic mechanisms and their mediators involved is till limited. The problem is further compounded by the unavailability of suitable validated biomarkers for assessing the efficacy of potential therapeutic interventions. The complexity of COPD suggests that effective therapeutic interventions may require the administration of more than one agent such as, for instance, an HNE or MMP-12 inhibitor with an anti-inflammatory agent such as a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, or a dual function agent capable of disrupting the cycle of proteolysis, apoptosis, inflammation and oxidative stress
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; cigarette smoke; oxidative stress; neutrophils; macrophages; T cells; apoptosis; chemokines; cytokines; protease-antiprotease imbalance; inflammation; human neutrophil elastase; human neutrophil proteinase 3; macrophage metalloelastase; α1-proteinase inhibitor; secretory leukocyte proteinase inhibitor; tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases; cystatins; small molecule therapeutics
Molecular genetics has greatly increased the understanding of diseases in which there is a single gene defect such as cystic fibrosis. Discovering the gene responsible and its function not only helps determine the pathogenesis of the disease but also offers a possible treatment-gene therapy. Polygenic disorders such as diabetes may soon yield their secrets to the same approach. Animal models of genetic diseases are proving useful research tools, and transgenesis has made xenografting possible. Furthermore, antisense technology allows specific inhibition of undesirably overexpressed genes such as those driving unwanted vascular cell proliferation and restenosis after angioplasty. The completion of the human genome project should make the search for "disease" gene much quicker and will increase still further the importance of these gene based approaches toward diseases.
Less than 20 years ago, the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene was discovered and associated with sporadic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Since then, researchers and clinicians have labored to better understand the biology driving RCC tumor progression and provide means to predict patient survival and response to therapy. Studies surrounding VHL inactivation and downstream effects continue to provide insights into these areas. Besides studies of this primary pathway, cytogenetic studies, gene expression analyses, tissue microarrays, serum proteomics, genomic resequencing, and microRNA profiling have yielded greater understanding of RCC biology and clinical presentation, and have led to a rich understanding of the heterogeneity of this disease. We review the current state of research investigations into the molecular biology of RCC, and discuss the applications to currently used clinical prognostic nomograms.
Cholestatic liver diseases encompass a wide spectrum of disorders with different causes, resulting in impaired bile flow and accumulation of bile acids and other potentially hepatotoxic cholephils. The understanding of the molecular mechanisms of bile formation and cholestasis has recently improved significantly through new insights into nuclear receptor (patho)biology. Nuclear receptors are ligand-activated transcription factors, which act as central players in the regulation of genes responsible for elimination and detoxification of biliary constituents accumulating in cholestasis. They also control other pathophysiologic processes such as inflammation, fibrogenesis, and carcinogenesis involved in the pathogenesis and disease progression of cholestasis liver diseases.
Cholestatic liver disease; Nuclear receptors; Cholestasis; Bile acids
The Gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) is the leading intracellular human pathogen responsible for respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Basic and applied research in pathogen biology, especially the elaboration of new mechanism-based anti-pathogen strategies, target discovery and drug development, rely heavily on the availability of the entire set of pathogen open reading frames, the ORFeome. The ORFeome of Cpn will enable genome- and proteome-wide systematic analysis of Cpn, which will improve our understanding of the molecular networks and mechanisms underlying and governing its pathogenesis.
Here we report the construction of a comprehensive gene collection covering 98.5% of the 1052 predicted and verified ORFs of Cpn (Chlamydia pneumoniae strain CWL029) in Gateway® ‘entry’ vectors. Based on genomic DNA isolated from the vascular chlamydial strain CV-6, we constructed an ORFeome library that contains 869 unique Gateway® entry clones (83% coverage) and an additional 168 PCR-verified ‘pooled’ entry clones, reaching an overall coverage of ~98.5% of the predicted CWL029 ORFs. The high quality of the ORFeome library was verified by PCR-gel electrophoresis and DNA sequencing, and its functionality was demonstrated by expressing panels of recombinant proteins in Escherichia coli and by genome-wide protein interaction analysis for a test set of three Cpn virulence factors in a yeast 2-hybrid system. The ORFeome is available in different configurations of resource stocks, PCR-products, purified plasmid DNA, and living cultures of E. coli harboring the desired entry clone or pooled entry clones. All resources are available in 96-well microtiterplates.
This first ORFeome library for Cpn provides an essential new tool for this important pathogen. The high coverage of entry clones will enable a systems biology approach for Cpn or host–pathogen analysis. The high yield of recombinant proteins and the promising interactors for Cpn virulence factors described here demonstrate the possibilities for proteome-wide studies.
ORFeome; Chlamydia pneumoniae; Omics; Pathogen; Systems biology; Infectious diseases
Increasing knowledge about the organization of proteins into complexes, systems, and pathways has led to a flowering of theoretical approaches for exploiting this knowledge in order to better learn the functions of proteins and their roles underlying phenotypic traits and diseases. Much of this body of theory has been developed and tested in model organisms, relying on their relative simplicity and genetic and biochemical tractability to accelerate the research. In this review, we discuss several of the major approaches for computationally integrating proteomics and genomics observations into integrated protein networks, then applying guilt-by-association in these networks in order to identify genes underlying traits. Recent trends in this field include a rising appreciation of the modular network organization of proteins underlying traits or mutational phenotypes, and how to exploit such protein modularity using computational approaches related to the internet search algorithm PageRank. Many protein network-based predictions have recently been experimentally confirmed in yeast, worms, plants, and mice, and several successful approaches in model organisms have been directly translated to analyze human disease, with notable recent applications to glioma and breast cancer prognosis.
Data integration; Function prediction; Humans; Model organisms; Phenotype prediction; Protein interaction networks
Molecular biology is a rapidly evolving field that has led to the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies to improve our capacity to study cellular processes in much finer detail. Transcription is the first step in protein expression and the major point of regulation of the components that determine the characteristics, fate and functions of cells. The study of transcriptional regulation has been greatly facilitated by the development of reporter genes and transcription factor expression vectors, which have become versatile tools for manipulating promoters, as well as transcription factors in order to examine their function. The understanding of promoter complexity and transcription factor structure offers an insight into the mechanisms of transcriptional control and their impact on cell behaviour. This review focuses on some of the many applications of molecular cut-and-paste tools for the manipulation of promoters and transcription factors leading to the understanding of crucial aspects of transcriptional regulation.
transcription; promoter; reporter gene; transcription factor; chimera
The sequencing of the human genome holds out the hope for personalized medicine, but it is clear that analysis of DNA or RNA content alone is not sufficient to understand most disease processes. Proteomic strategies that allow unbiased identification of proteins and their post-transcriptional and -translation modifications are an essential complement to genomic strategies. However, the enormity of the proteome and limitations in proteomic methods make it difficult to determine the targets that are particularly relevant to human disease. Methods are therefore needed that allow rational identification of targets based on function and relevance to disease. Screening methodologies such as phage display, SELEX, and small-molecule combinatorial chemistry have been widely used to discover specific ligands for cells or tissues of interest, such as tumors. Those ligands can be used in turn as affinity probes to identify their cognate molecular targets when they are not known in advance. Here we report an easy, robust and generally applicable approach in which phage particles bearing cell- or tissue-specific peptides serve directly as the affinity probes for their molecular targets. For proof of principle, the method successfully identified molecular binding partners, three of them novel, for 15 peptides specific for pancreatic cancer.