Abstract Genes and proteins show variable expression patterns throughout the human body. However, it is not clear whether relative differences in mRNA concentrations are retained on the protein level. Furthermore, inter-individual protein concentration variability within single tissue types has not been comprehensively explored. Here, we used the Gini index for in-depth concentration variability analysis of publicly available transcriptomics and proteomics data, and of an in-house proteomics dataset of human liver and jejunum from 38 donors. We found that the transfer of concentration variability from mRNA to protein is limited, that established ‘reference genes’ for data normalization vary markedly at the protein level, that protein concentrations cover a wide variability spectrum within single tissue types, and that concentration variability analysis can be a convenient starting point for identifying disease-associated proteins and novel biomarkers. Our results emphasize the importance of considering individual concentration levels, as opposed to population averages, for personalized systems biology analysis.
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