With the completion of genome sequences, the current challenge for biology is to determine the functions of all gene products and to understand how they contribute in making an organism viable. For the first time, biological systems can be viewed as being finite, with a limited set of molecular parts. However, the full range of biological processes controlled by these parts is extremely complex. Thus, a key approach in genomic research is to divide the cellular contents into distinct sub-populations, which are often given an "-omic" term. For example, the proteome is the full complement of proteins encoded by the genome, and the secretome is the part of it secreted from the cell. Carrying this further, we suggest the term "translatome" to describe the members of the proteome weighted by their abundance, and the "functome" to describe all the functions carried out by these. Once the individual sub-populations are defined and analyzed, we can then try to reconstruct the full organism by interrelating them, eventually allowing for a full and dynamic view of the cell. All this is, of course, made possible because of the increasing amount of large-scale data resulting from functional genomics experiments. However, there are still many difficulties resulting from the noisiness and complexity of the information. To some degree, these can be overcome through averaging with broad proteomic categories such as those implicit in functional and structural classifications. For illustration, we discuss one example in detail, interrelating transcript and cellular protein populations (transcriptome and translatome). Further information is available at http://bioinfo.mbb.yale.edu/what-is-it.
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