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Mass Spectrom Rev. 2013 Jul-Aug;32(4):267-311. doi: 10.1002/mas.21362. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Proteomics analysis of tumor microenvironment: Implications of metabolic and oxidative stresses in tumorigenesis.

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The State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, PR China.


Tumorigenesis is always concomitant with microenvironmental alterations. The tumor microenvironment is a heterogeneous and complex milieu, which exerts a variety of stresses on tumor cells for proliferation, survival, or death. Recently, accumulated evidence revealed that metabolic and oxidative stresses both play significant roles in tumor development and progression that converge on a common autophagic pathway. Tumor cells display increased metabolic autonomy, and the hallmark is the exploitation of aerobic glycolysis (termed Warburg effect), which increased glucose consumption and decreased oxidative phosphorylation to support growth and proliferation. This characteristic renders cancer cells more aggressive; they devour tremendous amounts of nutrients from microenvironment to result in an ever-growing appetite for new tumor vessel formation and the release of more "waste," including key determinants of cell fate like lactate and reactive oxygen species (ROS). The intracellular ROS level of cancer cells can also be modulated by a variety of stimuli in the tumor microenvironment, such as pro-growth and pro-inflammatory factors. The intracellular redox state serves as a double-edged sword in tumor development and progression: ROS overproduction results in cytotoxic effects and might lead to apoptotic cell death, whereas certain level of ROS can act as a second-messenger for regulation of such cellular processes as cell survival, proliferation, and metastasis. The molecular mechanisms for cancer cell responses to metabolic and oxidative stresses are complex and are likely to involve multiple molecules or signaling pathways. In addition, the expression and modification of these proteins after metabolic or oxidative stress challenge are diverse in different cancer cells and endow them with different functions. Therefore, MS-based high-throughput platforms, such as proteomics, are indispensable in the global analysis of cancer cell responses to metabolic and oxidative stress. Herein, we highlight recent advances in the understanding of the metabolic and oxidative stresses associated with tumor progression with proteomics-based systems biology approaches.

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