Background & aims: Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal disease that has seen little headway in diagnosis and treatment for the past few decades. The effective treatment of pancreatic cancer is critically relying on the diagnosis of the disease at an early stage, which still remains challenging. New experimental approaches, such as quantitative proteomics, have shown great potential for the study of cancer and have opened new opportunities to investigate crucial events underlying pancreatic tumorigenesis and to exploit this knowledge for early detection and better intervention.
Methods: To systematically study protein expression in pancreatic cancer, we used isotope-coded affinity tag technology and tandem mass spectrometry to perform quantitative proteomic profiling of pancreatic cancer tissues and normal pancreas.
Results: A total of 656 proteins were identified and quantified in 2 pancreatic cancer samples, of which 151 were differentially expressed in cancer by at least 2-fold. This study revealed numerous proteins that are newly discovered to be associated with pancreatic cancer, providing candidates for future early diagnosis biomarkers and targets for therapy. Several differentially expressed proteins were further validated by tissue microarray immunohistochemistry. Many of the differentially expressed proteins identified are involved in protein-driven interactions between the ductal epithelium and the extracellular matrix that orchestrate tumor growth, migration, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, and immunologic escape.
Conclusions: Our study is the first application of isotope-coded affinity tag technology for proteomic analysis of human cancer tissue and has shown the value of this technology in identifying differentially expressed proteins in cancer.