Ostlund G, Sonnhammer EL
Gene 497 (2) 228-236 [2012-04-15; online 2012-02-04]
mRNA expression is widely used as a proxy for protein expression. However, their true relation is not known and two genes with the same mRNA levels might have different abundances of respective proteins. A related question is whether the coexpression of mRNA for gene pairs is reflected by the corresponding protein pairs. We examined the mRNA-protein correlation for both expression and coexpression. This analysis yielded insights into the relationship between mRNA and protein abundance, and allowed us to identify subsets of greater mRNA-protein coherence. The correlation between mRNA and protein was low for both expression and coexpression, 0.12 and 0.06 respectively. However, applying the best-performing quality measure, high-quality subsets reached a Spearman correlation of 0.31 for expression, 0.34 for coexpression and 0.49 for coexpression when restricted to functionally coupled genes. Our methodology can thus identify subsets for which the mRNA levels are expected to be the strongest correlated with protein levels.