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The proteins involved in breast cancer initiation and progression are still largely elusive. To gain insights into these processes, we conducted quantitative proteomic analyses with 21T series of breast cell lines, which include a normal, primary tumor and a metastatic tumor that were isolated from a single patient. Stable isotope labeling of amino acid in cell culture followed by LC-MS/MS analysis was performed and deregulated proteins were identified using statistical analysis. Gene ontology analysis revealed that proteins involved in metabolic processes were the most deregulated in both tumorigenesis and metastasis. Interaction network analysis indicated that ERBB2 signaling played a critical role in tumorigenesis. In addition to known markers such as ERBB2 and E-cadherin, novel markers, including BRP44L, MTHFD2 and TIMM17A, were found to be overexpressed in 21T breast cancer cells and verified in additional breast cell lines. mRNA expression analysis as well as immunohistochemistry analysis in breast cancer tissues indicated that expression level of TIMM17A was directly correlated with tumor progression, and survival analysis suggested that TIMM17A was a powerful prognosis factor in breast cancer. More interestingly, overexpression and siRNA knockdown experiments indicated an oncogenic activity of TIMM17A in breast cancer. Our study provides a list of potential novel markers for breast cancer tumorigenesis and metastasis using a unique cell model. Further studies on TIMM17A as well as other markers on the list may reveal mechanisms that result in more effective therapeutics for cancer treatment.


Xiaoen Xu, Meng Qiao, Yang Zhang, Yinghua Jiang, Ping Wei, Jun Yao, Bo Gu, Yaqi Wang, Jing Lu, Zhigang Wang, Zhaoqing Tang, Yihong Sun, Wenshu Wu, Qian Shi. Quantitative proteomics study of breast cancer cell lines isolated from a single patient: discovery of TIMM17A as a marker for breast cancer. Proteomics. 2010 Apr;10(7):1374-90

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PMID: 20198662

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