The mitochondrial Italian Human Proteome Project initiative (mt-HPP)
Mitochondria carry maternally inherited genetic material, called the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA), which can be defined as the 25th human chromosome. The chromosome-centric Human Proteome Project (c-HPP) has initially focused its activities addressing the characterization and quantification of the nuclear encoded proteins. Following the last International HUPO Congress in Boston (September 2012) it was clear that however small the mitochondrial chromosome is, it plays an important role in many biological and physiopathological functions. Mutations in the mtDNA have been shown to be associated with dozens of unexplained disorders and the information contained in the mtDNA should be of major relevance to the understanding of many human diseases. Within this paper we describe the Italian initiative of the Human Proteome Project dedicated to mitochondria as part of both programs: chromosome-centric (c-HPP) and Biology/Disease (B/D-HPP). The mt-HPP has finally shifted the attention of the HUPO community outside the nuclear chromosomes with the general purpose to highlight the mitochondrial processes influencing the human health. Following this vision and considering the large interest and evidence collected on the non-Mendelian heredity of Homo sapiens associated with mt-chromosome and with the microbial commensal ecosystem constituting our organism we may speculate that this program will represent an initial step toward other HPP initiatives focusing on human phenotypic heredity.