In this study, ten subcellular proteome analyses of bacterial compartments were reviewed. PSORTb version 2.0 was used to computationally predict the localization of proteins reported in these publications, and these computational predictions were then compared to the localizations determined by the proteomics study. By using a combined approach, we were able to identify a number of contaminants and proteins with dual localizations, and were able to more accurately identify membrane subproteomes. Our results allowed us to estimate the precision level of laboratory subproteome studies and we show here that, on average, recent high-precision computational methods such as PSORTb now have a lower error rate than laboratory methods.
Identification of a bacterial protein's subcellular localization (SCL) is important for genome annotation, function prediction and drug or vaccine target identification. Subcellular fractionation techniques combined with recent proteomics technology permits the identification of large numbers of proteins from distinct bacterial compartments. However, the fractionation of a complex structure like the cell into several subcellular compartments is not a trivial task. Contamination from other compartments may occur, and some proteins may reside in multiple localizations. New computational methods have been reported over the past few years that now permit much more accurate, genome-wide analysis of the SCL of protein sequences deduced from genomes. There is a need to compare such computational methods with laboratory proteomics approaches to identify the most effective current approach for genome-wide localization characterization and annotation.
We have performed the first focused comparison of genome-wide proteomic and computational methods for subcellular localization identification, and show that computational methods have now attained a level of precision that is exceeding that of high-throughput laboratory approaches. We note that analysis of all cellular fractions collectively is required to effectively provide localization information from laboratory studies, and we propose an overall approach to genome-wide subcellular localization characterization that capitalizes on the complementary nature of current laboratory and computational methods.