Proteomic analysis of circulating small extracellular vesicles unique to cervical cancer
Background Small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) are membrane vesicles released by healthy and malignant cells. sEVs are potential biomarkers for cancer diagnosis. Cervical cancer (CC) is the fourth most common cancer in females worldwide. Existing biomarkers, such as squamous cell carcinoma antigens, show low specificity. Hence, a novel biomarker for the diagnosis of CC is required. This study aimed to identify potential candidates in sEVs through proteomic analysis for the diagnosis of CC and to determine the EV protein profile to distinguish between healthy and CC serum samples.
Methods The number and size distribution of sEVs in healthy controls (HC) and CC were measured using nanoparticle tracking analysis. Differential ultracentrifugation combined with size-exclusion chromatography was used to isolate and purify sEVs derived from the serum of HC and CC. The isolated sEVs were characterized using western blotting and transmission electron microscopy. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was used to identify and compare the protein profiles between CC and HC. EV proteins were validated using the TCGA database.
Results The particle concentration in CC was marginally higher than that in HC. The mode size of the particles in CC was significantly smaller than that in the HC-derived particles. Proteomic and functional protein analyses revealed a difference in the EV protein profiles between HC and CC. We found three and 18 uniquely expressed proteins in HC and CC, respectively. Unique EV proteins in CC are involved in angiogenesis and the Ras, VEGF, and FAS signaling pathways, while EV proteins in HC are involved in cellular homeostasis. EV proteins such as C1QB, MYO3B, and NADSYN1 were significantly upregulated in CC and primary tumor tissues, whereas MAFK, OR13C9, PIK3C2, PLCB4, RAB12, and VIP were downregulated in CC sEVs and primary tumor tissues.
Conclusion Our study provides useful insights into the potential of sEVs as noninvasive biomarkers for CC diagnosis. Validation with a well-designed cohort should be performed to assure the clinical diagnostic value of specific protein markers for CC sEVs.View full article