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Differential phosphoprofiles of EGF and EGFR kinase inhibitor-treated human tumor cells and mouse xenografts


The purpose of this phospho-proteomics study was to demonstrate the broad analysis of cellular protein phosphorylation in cells and tissue as a means to monitor changes in cellular states. As a cancer model, human tumor-derived A431 cells known to express the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) were grown as cell cultures or xenograft tumors in mice. The cells and tumor-bearing animals were subjected to treatments including the EGFR-directed protein kinase inhibitor PK166 and/or EGF stimulation. Whole cell/tissue protein extracts were converted to peptides by using trypsin, and phosphorylated peptides were purified by an affinity capture method. Peptides and phosphorylation sites were characterized and quantified by using a combination of tandem mass spectroscopy (MS) and Fourier transform MS instrumentation (FTMS). By analyzing roughly 106 cell equivalents, 780 unique phosphopeptides from approx 450 different proteins were characterized. Only a small number of these phosphorylation sites have been described previously in literature. Although a targeted analysis of the EGFR pathway was not a specific aim of this study, 22 proteins known to be associated with EGFR signaling were identified. Fifty phosphopeptides were found changed in abundance as a function of growth factor or drug treatment including novel sites of phosphorylation on the EGFR itself. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of using phospho-proteomics to determine drug and disease mechanisms, and as a measure of drug target modulation in tissue.


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Correspondence to David R. Stover.

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Key Words

  • Phosphoproteomics
  • proteomics
  • Fourier transform mass spectrometry (FTMS)
  • Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR)
  • PKI166