Quantitative phosphoproteomics reveals genistein as a modulator of cell cycle and DNA damage response pathways in triple-negative breast cancer cells

Int J Oncol. 2016 Mar;48(3):1016-28. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3327. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


Around one sixth of breast cancer cases are classified as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), named after the absence of the expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2); however, patients with TNBC suffer from poor clinical outcome and shortage of targeted therapy. Genistein, an estrogenic soy isoflavone, shows anticancer effects in TNBC cells such as inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. However, the underlying mechanism of its anticancer effects is poorly understood and its elucidation can help the development of novel therapeutic strategies for TNBC. In this study, by combining isobaric tag-based TMT labeling with titanium dioxide-based phosphopeptide enrichment, we quantitated 5,445 phosphorylation sites on 2,008 phosphoproteins in the TNBC cell line MDA-MB-231, upon genistein treatment. Our analysis revealed 332 genistein-regulated phosphorylation sites on 226 proteins. Our data show that genistein can regulate several biological processes during the cell cycle, including DNA replication, cohesin complex cleavage, and kinetochore formation. Furthermore, genistein can also activate DNA damage response, including activation of ATR and BRCA1 complex. Overall, our study presents evidence at a phosphoproteomic level that genistein is able to inhibit TNBC cell growth by regulating the cell cycle and DNA damage response in a more complex manner. Our findings help elucidate the mechanisms through which genistein exerts its anticancer effects in TNBC cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Replication
  • G2 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Genistein / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteome
  • Signal Transduction
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / pathology


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Isoflavones
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteome
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • Genistein