A study by the University of Tampere in Finland used protein profiling to find new prostate cancer mechanisms that are not shown by aberrations at the genomic level. Several new potential biomarkers of prostate cancer were also found.
Genes that affect prostate cancer evolution have been studied for a long time. However, changes in the protein levels are not well known.
The Center for Prostate Cancer Research and the Center for Proteomics and Personalized Medicine at the University of Tampere cooperated to profile the protein expression of prostate cancer by using mass spectrometry for the first time. The researchers compared protein expression to genomic and messenger RNAs in the same samples.
The result was that the changes in gene copy numbers and DNA methylation largely explain messenger RNA expression but not the changes on the protein level. The association between messenger RNA expression and protein levels was also weak. The study thus uncovered such mechanisms of prostate cancer that are not indicated by the alterations at the genomic level.
“In particular, changes in the citric acid cycle emerged in our analyzes,” Adjunct Professor Leena Latonen says.
“The results enable exploring the significance of these changes," Latonen continues.
In addition to the disease mechanisms, protein profiling revealed several potential new biomarkers.
According to Professor Tapio Visakorpi, biomarkers able to recognize the aggressive forms of prostate cancer would be especially useful. That is one of the aspects on which the researchers will focus next.
“Discovering these protein biomarkers was enabled by the long-term interdisciplinary work of the research groups on the Kauppi campus of the University of Tampere,” says Professor Hannu Uusitalo, Director of the Center for Proteomics and Personalized Medicine.
The research was published in Nature Communications, one of the leading journals in the field.
UNIVERSITY OF TAMPERE PRESS RELEASE, 21 March 2018