Proteomes are complex—much more so than genomes or transcriptomes. Thus, simplifying their analysis does not simplify the issue. Proteomes are of proteoforms, not canonical proteins. While having a catalogue of amino acid sequences provides invaluable information, this is the Proteome-lite. To dissect biological mechanisms and identify critical biomarkers/drug targets, we must assess the myriad of proteoforms that arise at any point before, after, and between translation and transcription (e.g., isoforms, splice variants, and post-translational modifications [PTM]), as well as newly defined species. There are numerous analytical methods currently used to address proteome depth and here we critically evaluate these in terms of the current ‘state-of-the-field’. We thus discuss both pros and cons of available approaches and where improvements or refinements are needed to quantitatively characterize proteomes. To enable a next-generation approach, we suggest that advances lie in transdisciplinarity via integration of current proteomic methods to yield a unified discipline that capitalizes on the strongest qualities of each. Such a necessary (if not revolutionary) shift cannot be accomplished by a continued primary focus on proteo-genomics/-transcriptomics. We must embrace the complexity. Yes, these are the hard questions, and this will not be easy…but where is the fun in easy?
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