A proteomic approach to characterizing ciglitazone-induced cancer cell differentiation in Hep-G2 cell line
Drug induced cell differentiation represents a promising experimental model for proteomic analysis of cancer cells. In fact, by modulating and monitoring neoplastic cell differentiation it could be possible to identify cytodifferentiation related protein expression changes that can be subsequently utilized in vivo as potential cancer biomarkers. One main advantage of this approach is the significant reduction of biological variability normally observed in clinical biomarker research, with important implications also in prognosis and therapy. At this regard, a new class of differentiating agents is emerging, the so called PPAR-ligands, which however are characterized by a debated mechanism of action that has not been yet studied through a proteomic approach. To this aim, we investigated ciglitazone-induced differentiation of a human hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cell line, by monitoring biochemical and cellular parameters of cytodifferentiation and modifications of cellular protein profiles through 2-DE and MALDI-TOF analysis. Independent of the hypothesized mechanism of action of this intriguing PPARγ agonist, results indicated that ciglitazone is a strong differentiating agent for the HepG2 cell line and that this process is associated with modifications of protein expression related to cell antioxidant systems, the cell cycle apparatus, signal transduction pathways, cellular stress and invasiveness. At last, considering these and other published data, a proteomic profile related to the cancer aggressiveness is beginning to emerge.