Background: There is an important need for the identification of novel serological biomarkers for the early detection of cancer. Current biomarkers suffer from a lack of tissue specificity, rendering them vulnerable to non-disease-specific increases. The present study details a strategy to rapidly identify tissue-specific proteins using bioinformatics.
Methods: Previous studies have focused on either gene or protein expression databases for the identification of candidates. We developed a strategy that mines six publicly available gene and protein databases for tissue-specific proteins, selects proteins likely to enter the circulation, and integrates proteomic datasets enriched for the cancer secretome to prioritize candidates for further verification and validation studies.
Results: Using colon, lung, pancreatic and prostate cancer as case examples, we identified 48 candidate tissue-specific biomarkers, of which 14 have been previously studied as biomarkers of cancer or benign disease. Twenty-six candidate biomarkers for these four cancer types are proposed.
Conclusions: We present a novel strategy using bioinformatics to identify tissue-specific proteins that are potential cancer serum biomarkers. Investigation of the 26 candidates in disease states of the organs is warranted.