Advances in membrane proteomics and cancer biomarker discovery: Current status and future perspective
Membrane proteomic analysis has been proven to be a promising tool for identifying new and specific biomarkers that can be used for prognosis and monitoring of various cancers. Membrane proteins are of great interest particularly those with functional domains exposed to the extracellular environment. Integral membrane proteins represent about one-third of the proteins encoded by the human genome and assume a variety of key biological functions, such as cell-to-cell communication, receptor-mediated signal transduction, selective transport, and pharmacological actions. More than two-thirds of membrane proteins are drug targets, highlighting their immensely important pharmaceutical significance. Most plasma membrane proteins and proteins from other cellular membranes have several PTMs; for example, glycosylation, phosphorylation, and nitrosylation, and moreover, PTMs of proteins are known to play a key role in tumor biology. These modifications often cause change in stoichiometry and microheterogeneity in a protein molecule, which is apparent during electrophoretic separation. Furthermore, the analysis of glyco- and phosphoproteome of cell membrane presents a number of challenges mainly due to their low abundance, their large dynamic range, and the inherent hydrophobicity of membrane proteins. Under pathological conditions, PTMs, such as phosphorylation and glycosylation are frequently altered and have been recognized as a potential source for disease biomarkers. Thus, their accurate differential expression analysis, along with differential PTM analysis is of paramount importance. Here we summarize the current status of membrane-based biomarkers in various cancers, and future perspective of membrane biomarker research.