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The hallmarks of biological processes that underlie the development of cancer have been long recognized, yet, existing therapeutic treatments cannot prevent cancer from continuing to be one of the leading causes of death worldwide. This work was aimed at exploring the extent to which the cell-membrane proteins are implicated in triggering cancer hallmark processes, and assessing the ability to pinpoint tumor-specific therapeutic targets through a combined membrane proteome/cancer hallmark perspective. By using GO annotations, a database of human proteins associated broadly with ten cancer hallmarks was created. Cell-membrane cellular subfractions of SKBR3/HER2+ breast cancer cells, used as a model system, were analyzed by high resolution mass spectrometry, and high-quality proteins (FDR<3%) identified by at least two unique peptides were mapped to the cancer hallmark database. Over 1,400 experimentally detected cell-membrane or cell-membrane associated proteins, representing ~18% of the human cell-membrane proteome, could be matched to the hallmark database. Representative membrane constituents such as receptors, CDs, adhesion and transport proteins were distributed over the entire genome and present in every hallmark category. Sustained proliferative signaling/cell cycle, adhesion/tissue invasion, and evasion of immune destruction emerged as prevalent hallmarks represented by the membrane proteins. Construction of protein-protein interaction networks uncovered a high level of connectivity between the hallmark members, with some receptor (EGFR, ERBB2, FGFR, MTOR, CSF1R), antigen (CD44), and adhesion (MUC1) proteins being implicated in most hallmark categories. An illustrative subset of 138 hallmark proteins that included 42 oncogenes, 24 tumor suppressors, 9 oncogene/tumor suppressor, and 45 approved drug targets was subjected to a more in-depth analysis. The existing drug targets were implicated mainly in signaling processes. Network centrality analysis revealed that nodes with high degree, rather than betweenness, represent a good resource for informing the selection of putative novel drug targets. Through heavy involvement in supporting cancer hallmark processes, we show that the functionally diverse and networked landscape of cancer cell-membrane proteins fosters unique opportunities for guiding the development of novel therapeutic interventions, including multi-agent, immuno-oncology and precision medicine applications.


Iulia M Lazar, Arba Karcini, Joshua R S Haueis. Mapping the cell-membrane proteome of the SKBR3/HER2+ cell line to the cancer hallmarks. PloS one. 2022;17(8):e0272384

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PMID: 35913978

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