Secretome protein signature of human pancreatic cancer stem-like cells

J Proteomics. 2016 Mar 16;136:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2016.01.017. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Emerging research has demonstrated that pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) contains a sub-population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) characterized by self-renewal, anchorage-independent-growth, long-term proliferation and chemoresistance. The secretome analysis of pancreatic CSCs has not yet been performed, although it may provide insight into tumour/microenvironment interactions and intracellular processes, as well as to identify potential biomarkers. To characterize the secreted proteins of pancreatic CSCs, we performed an iTRAQ-based proteomic analysis to compare the secretomes of Panc1 cancer stem-like cells (Panc1 CSCs) and parental cell line. A total of 72 proteins were found up-/down-regulated in the conditioned medium of Panc1 CSCs. The pathway analysis revealed modulation of vital physiological pathways including glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and pentose phosphate. Through ELISA immunoassays we analysed the presence of the three proteins most highly secreted by Panc1 CSCs (ceruloplasmin, galectin-3, and MARCKS) in sera of PDAC patient. ROC curve analysis suggests ceruloplasmin as promising marker for patients negative for CA19-9. Overall, our study provides a systemic secretome analysis of pancreatic CSCs revealing a number of secreted proteins which participate in pathological conditions including cancer differentiation, invasion and metastasis. They may serve as a valuable pool of proteins from which biomarkers and therapeutic targets can be identified.

Biological significance: The secretome of CSCs is a rich reservoir of biomarkers of cancer progression and molecular therapeutic targets, and thus is a topic of great interest for cancer research. The secretome analysis of pancreatic CSCs has not yet been performed. Recently, our group has demonstrated that Panc-1 CSCs isolated from parental cell line by using the CSC selective medium, represent a model of great importance to deepen the understanding of the biology of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. To our knowledge, this is the first proteomic study of pancreatic CSC secretome. We performed an iTRAQ-based analysis to compare the secretomes of Panc1 CSCs and Panc1 parental cell line and identified a total of 43 proteins secreted at higher level by pancreatic cancer stem cells. We found modulation of different vital physiological pathways (such as glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, pentose phosphate pathway) and the involvement of CSC secreted proteins (for example 72kDa type IV collagenase, galectin-3, alpha-actinin-4, and MARCKS) in pathological conditions including cancer differentiation, invasion and metastasis. By ELISA verification we found that MARCKS and ceruloplasmin discriminate between controls and PDAC patients; in addition ROC curve analyses indicate that MARCKS does not have diagnostic accuracy, while ceruloplasmin could be a promising marker only for patients negative for CA19-9. We think that the findings reported in our manuscript advance the understanding of the pathways implicated in tumourigenesis, metastasis and chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer, and also identify a pool of proteins from which novel candidate diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers could be discovered.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer; Secretome; iTRAQ-based proteomic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Pancreas / cytology
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Proteomics*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Proteome