Zonal regulation of collagen-type proteins and posttranslational modifications in prostatic benign and cancer tissues by imaging mass spectrometry

Prostate. 2020 Sep;80(13):1071-1086. doi: 10.1002/pros.24031. Epub 2020 Jul 20.


Background: The emergence of reactive stroma is a hallmark of prostate cancer (PCa) progression and a potential source for prognostic and diagnostic markers of PCa. Collagen is a main component of reactive stroma and changes systematically and quantitatively to reflect the course of PCa, yet has remained undefined due to a lack of tools that can define collagen protein structure. Here we use a novel collagen-targeting proteomics approach to investigate zonal regulation of collagen-type proteins in PCa prostatectomies.

Methods: Prostatectomies from nine patients were divided into zones containing 0%, 5%, 20%, 70% to 80% glandular tissue and 0%, 5%, 25%, 70% by mass of PCa tumor following the McNeal model. Tissue sections from zones were graded by a pathologist for Gleason score, percent tumor present, percent prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and/or inflammation (INF). High-resolution accurate mass collagen targeting proteomics was done on a select subset of tissue sections from patient-matched tumor or nontumor zones. Imaging mass spectrometry was used to investigate collagen-type regulation corresponding to pathologist-defined regions.

Results: Complex collagen proteomes were detected from all zones. COL17A and COL27A increased in zones of INF compared with zones with tumor present. COL3A1, COL4A5, and COL8A2 consistently increased in zones with tumor content, independent of tumor size. Collagen hydroxylation of proline (HYP) was altered in tumor zones compared with zones with INF and no tumor. COL3A1 and COL5A1 showed significant changes in HYP peptide ratios within tumor compared with zones of INF (2.59 ± 0.29, P value: .015; 3.75 ± 0.96 P value .036, respectively). By imaging mass spectrometry COL3A1 showed defined localization and regulation to tumor pathology. COL1A1 and COL1A2 showed gradient regulation corresponding to PCa pathology across zones. Pathologist-defined tumor regions showed significant increases in COL1A1 HYP modifications compared with COL1A2 HYP modifications. Certain COL1A1 and COL1A2 peptides could discriminate between pathologist-defined tumor and inflammatory regions.

Conclusions: Site-specific posttranslational regulation of collagen structure by proline hydroxylation may be involved in reactive stroma associated with PCa progression. Translational and posttranslational regulation of collagen protein structure has potential for new markers to understand PCa progression and outcomes.

Keywords: MALDI imaging mass spectrometry; collagen; formalin-fixed; imaging mass spectrometry; paraffin-embedded tissue imaging; peptide imaging; proline hydroxylation; prostate adenocarcinoma; prostate cancer; proteomics; tissue imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Autoantigens
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Collagen Type I, alpha 1 Chain
  • Collagen Type III / metabolism
  • Collagen Type IV / metabolism
  • Collagen Type VIII / metabolism
  • Collagen Type XVII
  • Disease Progression
  • Fibrillar Collagens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Non-Fibrillar Collagens
  • Proline / metabolism
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods


  • Autoantigens
  • COL1A2 protein, human
  • COL3A1 protein, human
  • COL4A5 protein, human
  • COL8A2 protein, human
  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type I, alpha 1 Chain
  • Collagen Type III
  • Collagen Type IV
  • Collagen Type VIII
  • Fibrillar Collagens
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Non-Fibrillar Collagens
  • Collagen
  • Proline