Uniting the Omics: Integrating Proteomics and Transcriptomics Data

Pooja Viswanathan
March 8, 2024

Proteomics and transcriptomics represent two powerful branches of omics science, offering unique perspectives on gene expression, protein function, and cellular processes. Proteomics focuses on the study of proteins and transcriptomics examines the expression levels of genes through RNA transcripts. Integrating data from these omics disciplines helps to increase the power of data because of how these data complement each other. In this blog, we discuss the power of integrating proteomics and transcriptomics data, the challenges in integrating them across data dimensions and how these challenges might be met by innovative solutions.

Importance of Integrating Proteomics and Transcriptomics Data

A Comprehensive Understanding of Biological Processes

Combining proteomics and transcriptomics data has made significant contributions to the understanding of diverse biological pathways in health and disease. These analyses along with other omics approaches provide a more complete picture of disease-related changes to tissue, the contributions of different genes to early stages of disease, and more.

Cell-type Signatures

Systems biology uses integrated proteomics and transcriptomics to understand organ function. Comparing mRNA and protein profiles from different cell types in organ tissue enables deeper understanding of the cellular organization of organs. When these different data types are integrated, downstream analyses like cell clustering, gene set enrichment comparisons, cell-cell correlations can be performed. These analyses guide the identification of cell-specific biological processes and aid the discovery of cell-type signatures in case of disease.

Biomarker Discovery

In clinical settings, integration of proteomics and transcriptomics makes it possible to compare the profiles of proteins and expressed genes in normal and diseased cells such as tumor tissue. These analyses lend themselves to insights in prognosis, diagnoses as well as prediction. Early detection or prediction of activation of tumor tissue by different growth factors can make crucial differences in treatment and survival rates. In colorectal cancer, the mutations of certain genes can predict resistance to treatment.

Immune Function

Proteome patterns of immune cell types combined with bulk RNA sequencing of those cells can reveal the network of cell-type-specific interactions between cells. This level of analysis is particularly useful to understand immunological responses to infection. It also allows the comparison of immune function across organs or populations. Immune cells can be tissue-resident or recruited into the organ, and distinguishing these origins lends insight into immune function.

Challenges while Integrating Data from Multiple Sources

Integrating proteomics and transcriptomics data poses several challenges due to the inherent complexities and heterogeneity of biological datasets, the different techniques used in acquiring the data, as well as the levels of data curation in public and private data repositories.

  1. Data Heterogeneity arises from differences in experimental protocols, technologies, and platforms used to generate omics data, leading to variations in data formats, scales, and units. These heterogeneities must be harmonized across to make analyses or valid biological comparisons.
  2. Normalizing and Scaling data to a common reference is crucial for comparing and combining datasets, but it can be challenging due to differences in data distributions and dynamic ranges between omics datasets. This is a common challenge in data sourced from public repositories.
  3. Missing Data is another common challenge, as experimental conditions or technical limitations may result in incomplete datasets, requiring imputation or interpolation techniques to address. Public repositories housing proteomics and transcriptomics data frequently lack metadata annotations.
  4. Biological Variability introduces additional complexity, as natural variations in biological samples can confound data integration efforts, necessitating careful consideration and statistical analysis.
  5. Data Processing poses significant challenges in omics data integration, as complex pipelines are required to preprocess, clean, and transform raw data into a standardized format suitable for analysis. Such data processing requires significant computational infrastructure and data management tools.
  6. Analysis & Visualization of integrated omics data further complicates the process, as researchers must employ advanced statistical methods and visualization techniques to extract meaningful insights and patterns from multidimensional datasets. These methods require advanced expertise to apply to ensure scientific validity and rigor. Visualization of the results also requires integration of specialized toolkits.

Mitigating Challenges with Polly

Polly emerges as a transformative solution for mitigating challenges in integrating proteomics and transcriptomics data. By harnessing Polly's advanced capabilities, researchers can seamlessly retrieve and curate data from public and proprietary sources, ensuring access to a comprehensive and diverse collection of omics datasets. 

Polly's Harmonization Engine
Polly's Harmonization Engine
  • Polly’s quality checks complete metadata annotations, linking ontology-backed metadata with 99.99% accuracy and 30+ metadata fields.
  • Around 50 QA/QC checks ensure quality and completeness in integrated datasets.
  • Polly provides fully customizable analysis pipelines with assurance of scientific validity and full optimization.
  • Polly secures data on its cloud platform so that analytical solutions can be scaled effortlessly and analyze high volumes of data.
  • Data harmonization with Polly makes data uniform across data dimensions and removes concerns about biological variability.
Polly reduces costs and runtimes for data pre-processing, handling and analysis.
  • Polly Verified’ data is suited for functional model fitting using machine learning.
  • Polly provides access to ML models that can be built, fine-tuned and trained as per specific research needs and then deployed within the environment.
  • Polly’s Data Concierge services provide access to in-house experts to help with data accessibility, analysis curation and data visualization. This human-in-the-loop policy guarantees support in every aspect of bioinformatics research.
  • Data can be analyzed in native apps or extended into proprietary applications for further visualization.

By leveraging Polly's integrated omics data platform, researchers can unlock new insights into complex biological processes, accelerating discoveries and advancing scientific knowledge. From elucidating disease mechanisms to identifying therapeutic targets and biomarkers, integrated proteomics and transcriptomics data pave the way for groundbreaking discoveries with profound implications for human health and disease.

Polly, a Leader in Data Harmonization

Polly is a pioneer in accelerating research timelines and making data integration a priority. From eliminating redundant efforts to fostering collaborative analysis and facilitating breakthroughs in diagnostics and therapeutics, Polly addresses data needs at every step of your research.

Join the community of researchers who have embraced Polly for data harmonization and integration.

Connect with us or reach out to us at info@elucidata.io to learn more.

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