Both healthy and cancerous breast tissue is heterogeneous, which is a bottleneck for proteomics-based biomarker analysis, as it obscures the cellular origin of a measured protein. We therefore aimed at obtaining a protein-level interpretation of malignant transformation through global proteome analysis of a variety of laser capture microdissected cells originating from benign and malignant breast tissues. We compared proteomic differences between these tissues, both from cells of epithelial origin and the stromal environment, and performed string analysis. Differences in protein abundances corresponded with several hallmarks of cancer, including loss of cell adhesion, transformation to a migratory phenotype, and enhanced energy metabolism. Furthermore, despite enriching for (tumor) epithelial cells, many changes to the extracellular matrix were detected in microdissected cells of epithelial origin. The stromal compartment was heterogeneous and richer in the number of fibroblast and immune cells in malignant sections, compared to benign tissue sections. Furthermore, stroma could be clearly divided into reactive and nonreactive based on extracellular matrix disassembly proteins. We conclude that proteomics analysis of both microdissected epithelium and stroma gives an additional layer of information and more detailed insight into malignant transformation.

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Keywords Breast cancer, Cellular origin, Laser capture microdissection, Malignant transformation, Tissue environment
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Journal Proteomics
Braakman, R.B.H, Stingl, C, Tilanus-Linthorst, M.M.A, van Deurzen, C.H.M, Timmermans, A.M, Smid, M, … Umar, A. (2017). Proteomic characterization of microdissected breast tissue environment provides a protein-level overview of malignant transformation. Proteomics, 17(5). doi:10.1002/pmic.201600213