Patients with a stable chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) double their blood lymphocyte count in >5 years, but may develop progressive disease with lymphocytes doubling in <12 months. To identify a protein signature for progressive CLL, whole cell extracts of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with CLL (n=27) were screened using iTRAQ (isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification) analysis. A total of 84 differentially abundant proteins were identified from patients with stable and progressive CLL. Subsequently, 32 of these proteins were quantified by SRM (selected reaction monitoring) using extracts of purified CD19+ CLL cells from patients (n=50). Hierarchical clustering of these protein profiles showed two clusters of patients that correlated with progressive and stable CLL, providing signatures that should be useful for triaging patients. Some of the proteins in the progressive cluster have not been linked with CLL, for example, glutamate dehydrogenase 1 and transcription intermediary factor 1-beta.
Keywords: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; iTRAQ; mass spectrometry; prognostic markers; proteomics; selected reaction monitoring.