Selected reaction monitoring approach for validating peptide biomarkers

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Dec 19;114(51):13519-13524. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1712731114. Epub 2017 Dec 4.


We here describe a selected reaction monitoring (SRM)-based approach for the discovery and validation of peptide biomarkers for cancer. The first stage of this approach is the direct identification of candidate peptides through comparison of proteolytic peptides derived from the plasma of cancer patients or healthy individuals. Several hundred candidate peptides were identified through this method, providing challenges for choosing and validating the small number of peptides that might prove diagnostically useful. To accomplish this validation, we used 2D chromatography coupled with SRM of candidate peptides. We applied this approach, called sequential analysis of fractionated eluates by SRM (SAFE-SRM), to plasma from cancer patients and discovered two peptides encoded by the peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase A (PPIA) gene whose abundance was increased in the plasma of ovarian cancer patients. At optimal thresholds, elevated levels of at least one of these two peptides was detected in 43 (68.3%) of 63 women with ovarian cancer but in none of 50 healthy controls. In addition to providing a potential biomarker for ovarian cancer, this approach is generally applicable to the discovery of peptides characteristic of various disease states.

Keywords: cancer diagnostics; clinical proteomics; peptide biomarker; plasma biomarker; selected reaction monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Cyclophilin A / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods*
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / standards
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Peptides / blood*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Proteomics / standards
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Peptides
  • Cyclophilin A