Neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) induced by different stimuli: A comparative proteomic analysis

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 8;14(7):e0218946. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218946. eCollection 2019.


Neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) formation is part of the neutrophil response to infections, but excessive or inappropriate NETosis may trigger the production of autoantibodies and cause organ damage in autoimmune disorders. Spontaneously netting neutrophils are not frequent and induction of NET in vitro by selected stimuli is necessary to investigate their structure. In the present work, the protein composition and post-translational modifications of NET produced under different stimuli have been studied by means of proteomic analysis. Neutrophils from healthy donors were stimulated by PMA, A23187, Escherichia coli LPS or untreated; after three hours, cells were washed, treated with DNase and supernatants collected for mass spectrometry. Data were analyzed by unsupervised hierarchical clustering analyses. We identified proteins contained in NETs of any source or exclusive of one stimulus: LPS-induced and spontaneous NET diverge in protein composition, while PMA- and A23187-induced NET appear more similar. Among the post-translational modifications we examined, methionine sulfoxidation is frequent especially in PMA- and LPS-induced NETs. Myeloperoxidase is the protein more extensively modified. Thus, proteomic analysis indicates that NETs induced by different stimuli are heterogeneous in terms of both protein composition and post-translational modifications, suggesting that NET induced in different conditions may have different biological effects.

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / genetics
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Calcimycin / pharmacology
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Extracellular Traps / drug effects*
  • Extracellular Traps / genetics
  • Gene Ontology
  • Histones / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Peroxidase / genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics
  • Proteomics*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Calcimycin
  • Peroxidase
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.