Digging deeper into the field of the small cell lung cancer tumor marker ProGRP: a method for differentiation of its isoforms

J Proteome Res. 2013 Jan 4;12(1):412-20. doi: 10.1021/pr300751j. Epub 2012 Dec 12.


In this paper, we have used a newly developed immunocapture and LC-MS method to demonstrate for the first time the presence of protein isoforms 1 and 3 of the small cell lung cancer (SCLC) marker progastrin-releasing peptide (ProGRP) in sera. In addition, the method allows for indirect determination of the relative presence of the other known isoform of ProGRP, also known as ProGRP isoform 2. This new method is able to determine total ProGRP as a marker in sera at clinically relevant levels and to differentiate between isoforms at the low-pM level through combining selective sample preparation by immunoextraction, tryptic digestion, and separation followed by detection with LC-SRM-MS of the signature peptides, NLLGLIEAK (total ProGRP), LSAPGSQR (ProGRP isoform 1), and DLVDSLLQVLNVK (ProGRP isoform 3), with accuracies ≤ 25% for lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) and precisions ≤ 33%. By analyzing serum samples from four patients diagnosed with SCLC using the here described new and fully validated method, the ability is shown to both determine total ProGRP concentration and to differentiate between ProGRP isoforms 1 and 3 in one single run. Quantification of various ProGRP isoforms in one single run may be helpful for further understanding of the underlying biochemical processes in SCLC and differentiation of small cell lung cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Peptide Fragments* / blood
  • Peptide Fragments* / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments* / isolation & purification
  • Peptides / blood
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / isolation & purification
  • Protein Isoforms* / blood
  • Protein Isoforms* / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms* / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • pro-gastrin-releasing peptide (31-98)