Proteomics of Cancer

Obtusaquinone is a cysteine modifying compound that targets Keap1 for degradation.

We have previously identified the natural product Obtusaquinone (OBT) as a potent antineoplastic agent with promising in vivo activity in glioblastoma and breast cancer through the activation of oxidative stress; however, the molecular properties of this compound remained elusive. We used a multidisciplinary approach comprising medicinal chemistry, quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics, functional studies in cancer cells, pharmacokinetic analysis, as well as mouse xenograft models to develop and validate novel OBT analogs and characterize the molecular mechanism of action of OBT. We here show that OBT binds to cysteine residues with particular affinity to cysteine-rich Keap1, a member of the CUL3 ubiquitin ligase complex. This binding promotes an overall stress response and results in ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of Keap1 and downstream activation of the Nrf2 pathway. Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with the PET-tracer 2 [18F] fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG), we confirm that OBT is able to penetrate the brain and functionally target brain tumors. Finally, we show that an OBT analog with improved pharmacological properties including enhanced potency, stability and solubility, retains the antineoplastic properties in a xenograft mouse model.

Breast Cancer lab
Senior female scientist working in a laboratory against diseases. Senior male scientist with a test tube in his hand.


Platelet Membrane-Camouflaged Magnetic Nanoparticles for Ferroptosis-Enhanced Cancer Immunotherapy.

Although cancer immunotherapy has emerged as a tremendously promising cancer therapy method, it remains effective only for several cancers. Photoimmunotherapy (e.g., photodynamic/photothermal therapy) could synergistically enhance the immune response of immunotherapy. However, excessively generated immunogenicity will cause serious inflammatory response syndrome. Herein, biomimetic magnetic nanoparticles, Fe3 O4 -SAS @ PLT, are reported as a novel approach to sensitize effective ferroptosis and generate mild immunogenicity, enhancing the response rate of non-inflamed tumors for cancer immunotherapy. Fe3 O4 -SAS@PLT are built from sulfasalazine (SAS)-loaded mesoporous magnetic nanoparticles (Fe3 O4 ) and platelet (PLT) membrane camouflage and triggered a ferroptotic cell death via inhibiting the glutamate-cystine antiporter system Xc- pathway. Fe3 O4 -SAS @ PLT-mediated ferroptosis significantly improves the efficacy of programmed cell death 1 immune checkpoint blockade therapy and achieves a continuous tumor elimination in a mouse model of 4T1 metastatic tumors. Proteomics studies reveal that Fe3 O4 -SAS @ PLT-mediated ferroptosis could not only induce tumor-specific immune response but also efficiently repolarize macrophages from immunosuppressive M2 phenotype to antitumor M1 phenotype. Therefore, the concomitant of Fe3 O4 -SAS @ PLT-mediated ferroptosis with immunotherapy are expected to provide great potential in the clinical treatment of tumor metastasis.


A meta-analysis of proteomic blood markers of colorectal cancer.

Early diagnosis will significantly improve the survival rate of colorectal cancer (CRC); however, the existing methods for CRC screening were either invasive or inefficient. There is an emergency need for novel markers in CRC’s early diagnosis. Serum proteomics has gained great potential in discovering novel markers, providing markers that reflect the early stage of cancer and prognosis prediction of CRC. In this paper, the results of proteomics of CRC studies were summarized through a meta-analysis, to obtain the diagnostic efficiency of novel markers.A systematic search on bibliographic databases was performed to collect the studies that explore blood-based markers for CRC applying proteomics. The detection and validation methods, as well as the specificity and sensitivity of the biomarkers in these studies, were evaluated. Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) case-control studies version was used for quality assessment of included studies.Thirty-four studies were selected from 751 studies, in which markers detected by proteomics were summarized. In total, fifty-nine proteins were classified according to their biological function. The sensitivity, specificity, or AUC varied among these markers. Among them, Mammalian STE20-like protein kinase 1/ Serine threonine kinase 4 (MST1/STK4), S100 calcium-binding protein A9 (S100A9), and Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1 (TIMP1) were suitable for effect sizes merging, and their diagnostic efficiencies were recalculated after merging. MST1/STK4 obtained a sensitivity of 68% and a specificity of 78%. S100A9 achieved a sensitivity of 72%, a specificity of 83%, and an AUC of 0.88. TIMP1 obtained a sensitivity of 42%, a specificity of 88%, and an AUC of 0.71.MST1/STK4, S100A9, and TIMP1 showed excellent performance for CRC detection. Several other markers also presented optimized diagnostic efficacy for CRC early detection, but further verification is still needed before they are suitable for clinical use. The discovering of more efficient markers will benefit CRC treatment.


Protein Phosphorylation in Serine Residues Correlates with Progression from Precancerous Lesions to Cervical Cancer in Mexican Patients.

Protein phosphorylation is a posttranslational modification that is essential for normal cellular processes; however, abnormal phosphorylation is one of the prime causes for alteration of many structural, functional, and regulatory proteins in disease conditions. In cancer, changes in the states of protein phosphorylation in tyrosine residues have been more studied than phosphorylation in threonine or serine residues, which also undergo alterations with greater predominance. In general, serine phosphorylation leads to the formation of multimolecular signaling complexes that regulate diverse biological processes, but in pathological conditions such as tumorigenesis, anomalous phosphorylation may result in the deregulation of some signaling pathways. Cervical cancer (CC), the main neoplasm associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, is the fourth most frequent cancer worldwide. Persistent infection of the cervix with high-risk human papillomaviruses produces precancerous lesions starting with low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL), progressing to high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) until CC is generated. Here, we compared the proteomic profile of phosphorylated proteins in serine residues from healthy, LSIL, HSIL, and CC samples. Our data show an increase in the number of phosphorylated proteins in serine residues as the grade of injury rises. These results provide a support for future studies focused on phosphorylated proteins and their possible correlation with the progression of cervical lesions.


Bioinformatics combined with quantitative proteomics analyses and identification of potential biomarkers in cholangiocarcinoma.

Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is an invasive malignancy arising from biliary epithelial cells; it is the most common primary tumour of the bile tract and has a poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to screen prognostic biomarkers for CCA by integrated multiomics analysis.The GSE32225 dataset was derived from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database and comprehensively analysed by using R software and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database to obtain the differentially expressed RNAs (DERNAs) associated with CCA prognosis. Quantitative isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) proteomics was used to screen differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) between CCA and nontumour tissues. Through integrated analysis of DERNA and DEP data, we obtained candidate proteins APOF, ITGAV and CASK, and immunohistochemistry was used to detect the expression of these proteins in CCA. The relationship between CASK expression and CCA prognosis was further analysed.Through bioinformatics analysis, 875 DERNAs were identified, of which 10 were associated with the prognosis of the CCA patients. A total of 487 DEPs were obtained by using the iTRAQ technique. Comprehensive analysis of multiomics data showed that CASK, ITGAV and APOF expression at both the mRNA and protein levels were different in CCA compared with nontumour tissues. CASK was found to be expressed in the cytoplasm and nucleus of CCA cells in 38 (45%) of 84 patients with CCA. Our results suggested that patients with positive CASK expression had significantly better overall survival (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) than those with negative CASK expression. Univariate and multivariate analyses demonstrated that negative expression of CASK was a significantly independent risk factor for OS and RFS in CCA patients.CASK may be a tumour suppressor; its low expression is an independent risk factor for a poor prognosis in CCA patients, and so it could be used as a clinically valuable prognostic marker.


Proteome alterations associated with the oleic acid and cis-9, trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid content in bovine skeletal muscle.

Oleic acid (OA) and cis-9, trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid (c9t11-CLA) are fatty acids found in beef with beneficial effects in human health. This study investigated differentially abundant proteins (DAPs) in skeletal muscle of bovines with extreme values of OA, and c9t11-CLA. For each one of the fatty acids, twenty muscle samples were divided into two groups (N = 10_High; N = 10_Low) and analyzed by high definition mass spectrometry. We identified 103 and 133 DAPs between the groups for each fatty acid. We found 64 and 45 up-regulated and 39 and 68 down-regulated proteins for OA and c9t11-CLA, respectively. Comparative analysis between proteomic and transcriptomic data revealed eight and ten genes with a consistent between mRNA expression levels and protein abundance for OA and c9t11-CLA, respectively. Unconventional myosin-Id (MYO1D), mineralocorticoid receptor (NR3C2), geranylgeranyl transferase type-2 subunit-alpha (RABGGTA), and uveal autoantigen with coiled-coil domains and ankyrin repeats (UACA) were found as putative candidate proteins for OA content. Fatty acid synthase (FASN), tubulin alpha-4A chain (TUBA4A), vinculin (VCL), NADH dehydrogenase 1 alpha subcomplex 5 (NDUFA5), and prefoldin subunit 6 (PFDN6) for c9t11-CLA. Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind the regulation of the OA and c9t11-CLA content in cattle skeletal muscle.

SIGNIFICANCE: Questions about the association between meat intake and disease incidence in humans has driven animal scientist to pursue a better understanding of the biological processes associated with differences in the intramuscular fat composition. The beneficial effects of oleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid in human health have been demonstrated by improving the immune system and preventing atherosclerosis, different types of cancers, hypertension, and diabetes. Previous genome-wide association and gene expression studies identified genomic regions and differentially expressed genes associated with the fatty acid profile in skeletal muscle. In this work, differences were evaluated at the protein level. The use of a label-free quantitative proteomic approach, compared with muscle transcriptome results obtained by RNA-sequencing, allowed us to earn new insights into the variability in fatty acid deposition in skeletal muscle of farm animals. This study opens new avenues to explore the effect of the fatty acids in the skeletal muscle of livestock animals, which is associated with nutritional values of the meat, and perhaps to understand the mechanisms correlated with metabolic diseases in other species.


Deciphering MET-dependent modulation of global cellular responses to DNA damage by quantitative phosphoproteomics.

Increasing evidence suggests that interference with growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) signaling can affect DNA damage response (DDR) networks, with a consequent impact on cellular responses to DNA-damaging agents widely used in cancer treatment. In that respect, the MET RTK is deregulated in abundance and/or activity in a variety of human tumors. Using two proteomic techniques, we explored how disrupting MET signaling modulates global cellular phosphorylation response to ionizing radiation (IR). Following an immunoaffinity-based phosphoproteomic discovery survey we selected candidate phosphorylation sites for extensive characterization by targeted proteomics focusing on phosphorylation sites in both signaling networks. Several substrates of the DDR were confirmed to be modulated by sequential MET inhibition and IR, or MET inhibition alone. Upon combined treatment, for two substrates, NUMA1 S395 and CHEK1 S345, the gain and loss of phosphorylation, respectively, were recapitulated using in vivo tumor models by immunohistochemistry, with possible utility in future translational research. Overall, we have corroborated phosphorylation sites at the intersection between MET and the DDR signaling networks, and suggest that these represent a class of proteins at the interface between oncogene-driven proliferation and genomic stability.


Flow-induced reorganization of laminin-integrin networks within the endothelial basement membrane uncovered by proteomics.

The vessel wall is continuously exposed to hemodynamic forces generated by blood flow. Endothelial mechanosensors perceive and translate mechanical signals via cellular signaling pathways into biological processes that control endothelial development, phenotype and function. To assess the hemodynamic effects on the endothelium on a system-wide level, we applied a quantitative mass spectrometry approach combined with cell surface chemical footprinting. SILAC-labeled endothelial cells were subjected to flow-induced shear stress for 0, 24 or 48 hours, followed by chemical labeling of surface proteins using a non-membrane permeable biotin label, and analysis of the whole proteome and the cell surface proteome by LC-MS/MS analysis. These studies revealed that of the >5000 quantified proteins 104 were altered, which were highly enriched for extracellular matrix proteins and proteins involved in cell-matrix adhesion. Cell surface proteomics indicated that LAMA4 was proteolytically processed upon flow-exposure, which corresponded to the decreased LAMA4 mass observed on immunoblot. Immunofluorescence microscopy studies highlighted that the endothelial basement membrane was drastically remodeled upon flow exposure. We observed a network-like pattern of LAMA4 and LAMA5, which corresponded to the localization of laminin-adhesion molecules ITGA6 and ITGB4. Furthermore, the adaptation to flow-exposure did not affect the inflammatory response to tumor necrosis factor α, indicating that inflammation and flow trigger fundamentally distinct endothelial signaling pathways with limited reciprocity and synergy. Taken together, this study uncovers the blood flow-induced remodeling of the basement membrane and stresses the importance of the subendothelial basement membrane in vascular homeostasis.


Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomic Characterization of Cutaneous Melanoma Ectosomes Reveals the Presence of Cancer-Related Molecules.

Cutaneous melanoma (CM) is an aggressive type of skin cancer for which effective biomarkers are still needed. Recently, the protein content of extracellular vesicles (ectosomes and exosomes) became increasingly investigated in terms of its functional role in CM and as a source of novel biomarkers; however, the data concerning the proteome of CM-derived ectosomes is very limited. We used the shotgun nanoLC-MS/MS approach to the profile protein content of ectosomes from primary (WM115, WM793) and metastatic (WM266-4, WM1205Lu) CM cell lines. Additionally, the effect exerted by CM ectosomes on recipient cells was assessed in terms of cell proliferation (Alamar Blue assay) and migratory properties (wound healing assay). All cell lines secreted heterogeneous populations of ectosomes enriched in the common set of proteins. A total of 1507 unique proteins were identified, with many of them involved in cancer cell proliferation, migration, escape from apoptosis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and angiogenesis. Isolated ectosomes increased proliferation and motility of recipient cells, likely due to the ectosomal transfer of different cancer-promoting molecules. Taken together, these results confirm the significant role of ectosomes in several biological processes leading to CM development and progression, and might be used as a starting point for further studies exploring their diagnostic and prognostic potential.


The CRL3BTBD9 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex targets TNFAIP1 for degradation to suppress cancer cell migration.

Tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 1 (TNFAIP1) modulates a plethora of important biological processes, including tumorigenesis and cancer cell migration. However, the regulatory mechanism of TNFAIP1 degradation remains largely elusive. In the present study, with a label-free quantitative proteomic approach, TNFAIP1 was identified as a novel ubiquitin target of the Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complex. More importantly, Cul3-ROC1 (CRL3), a subfamily of CRLs, was identified.