Using protein turnover to expand the applications of transcriptomics


RNA expression and protein abundance are often at odds when measured in parallel, raising questions about the functional implications of transcriptomics data. Here, we present the concept of persistence, which attempts to address this challenge by combining protein half-life data with RNA expression into a single metric that approximates protein abundance. The longer a protein’s half-life, the more influence it can have on its surroundings. This data offers a valuable opportunity to gain deeper insight into the functional meaning of transcriptome changes. We demonstrate the application of persistence using schizophrenia (SCZ) datasets, where it greatly improved our ability to predict protein abundance from RNA expression. Furthermore, this approach successfully identified persistent genes and pathways known to have impactful changes in SCZ. These results suggest that persistence is a valuable metric for improving the functional insight offered by transcriptomics data, and extended application of this concept could advance numerous research fields.