Quantitative Proteomic and Phosphoproteomic Comparison of 2D and 3D Colon Cancer Cell Culture Models

J Proteome Res. 2016 Dec 2;15(12):4265-4276. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00342. Epub 2016 Oct 10.


Cell cultures are widely used model systems. Some immortalized cell lines can be grown in either two-dimensional (2D) adherent monolayers or in three-dimensional (3D) multicellular aggregates, or spheroids. Here, the quantitative proteome and phosphoproteome of colon carcinoma HT29 cells cultures in 2D monolayers and 3D spheroids were compared with a stable isotope labeling of amino acids (SILAC) labeling strategy. Two biological replicates from each sample were examined, and notable differences in both the proteome and the phosphoproteome were determined by nanoliquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to assess how growth configuration affects molecular expression. A total of 5867 protein groups, including 2523 phosphoprotein groups and 8733 phosphopeptides were identified in the samples. The Gene Ontology analysis revealed enriched GO terms in the 3D samples for RNA binding, nucleic acid binding, enzyme binding, cytoskeletal protein binding, and histone binding for their molecular functions (MF) and in the process of cell cycle, cytoskeleton organization, and DNA metabolic process for the biological process (BP). The KEGG pathway analysis indicated that 3D cultures are enriched for oxidative phosphorylation pathways, metabolic pathways, peroxisome pathways, and biosynthesis of amino acids. In contrast, analysis of the phosphoproteomes indicated that 3D cultures have decreased phosphorylation correlating with slower growth rates and lower cell-to-extracellular matrix interactions. In sum, these results provide quantitative assessments of the effects on the proteome and phosphoproteome of culturing cells in 2D versus 3D cell culture configurations.

Keywords: 2D culture; 3D culture; colon cancer; phosphoproteomic; proteomic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Models, Biological*
  • Phosphoproteins / analysis*
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteomics / instrumentation
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / chemistry*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Phosphoproteins