Objective: To screen a publicly available immunohistochemistry (IHC) based web-atlas, to identify key proteins in bladder cancer that might serve as potential biomarkers.
Materials and methods: The first version of the Human Protein Atlas (HPA 1.0), with 660 proteins, was visually examined to identify proteins with a variable staining pattern among the 12 tissue samples representing bladder cancer. None or limited previous characterization in bladder cancer, as well as a supportive Western blot, were also required. The selected proteins were then evaluated in an independent set of patient samples (106 tumour samples of differing stage and grade) represented in a tissue microarray (TMAi). The IHC expression of the identified proteins in the TMAi was scored and related to tumour stage and grade.
Results: The expression profiles of the 13 proteins selected from the web-atlas were confirmed in the TMAi. Expression patterns for seven proteins were significantly altered (P < 0.05) with higher stage and/or grade. Three of those (CN130, DSG3, PHF6) lack characterization in bladder cancer, whereas the remaining four proteins have previously been suggested as key proteins/potential biomarkers in cancer, some of them also in bladder cancer.
Conclusion: New candidate proteins for urinary bladder cancer were identified through screening of the publicly available HPA 1.0. Although further evaluation is necessary, this strategy is promising in the search for new biomarkers, with potential to improve the management of patients with this disease.