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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2008 Jun;7(6):1162-73. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M700500-MCP200. Epub 2008 Mar 13.

Discovery and verification of head-and-neck cancer biomarkers by differential protein expression analysis using iTRAQ labeling, multidimensional liquid chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, York University, Toronto, Ontario M2J 1P3, Canada.


Multidimensional LC-MS/MS has been used for the analysis of biological samples labeled with isobaric mass tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) to identify proteins that are differentially expressed in human head-and-neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) in relation to non-cancerous head-and-neck tissues (controls) for cancer biomarker discovery. Fifteen individual samples (cancer and non-cancerous tissues) were compared against a pooled non-cancerous control (prepared by pooling equal amounts of proteins from six non-cancerous tissues) in five sets by on-line and off-line separation. We identified 811 non-redundant proteins in HNSCCs, including structural proteins, signaling components, enzymes, receptors, transcription factors, and chaperones. A panel of proteins showing consistent differential expression in HNSCC relative to the non-cancerous controls was discovered. Some of the proteins include stratifin (14-3-3sigma); YWHAZ (14-3-3zeta); three calcium-binding proteins of the S100 family, S100-A2, S100-A7 (psoriasin), and S100-A11 (calgizarrin); prothymosin alpha (PTHA); L-lactate dehydrogenase A chain; glutathione S-transferase Pi; APC-binding protein EB1; and fascin. Peroxiredoxin2, carbonic anhydrase I, flavin reductase, histone H3, and polybromo-1D (BAF180) were underexpressed in HNSCCs. A panel of the three best performing biomarkers, YWHAZ, stratifin, and S100-A7, achieved a sensitivity of 0.92 and a specificity of 0.91 in discriminating cancerous from non-cancerous head-and-neck tissues. Verification of differential expression of YWHAZ, stratifin, and S100-A7 proteins in clinical samples of HNSCCs and paired and non-paired non-cancerous tissues by immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and RT-PCR confirmed their overexpression in head-and-neck cancer. Verification of YWHAZ, stratifin, and S100-A7 in an independent set of HNSCCs achieved a sensitivity of 0.92 and a specificity of 0.87 in discriminating cancerous from non-cancerous head-and-neck tissues, thereby confirming their overexpressions and utility as credible cancer biomarkers.

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