Thursday, October 2, 2014

Is glycoproteomics the key to cancer?

I love global protein abundance experiments.  With today's technology, it is now relatively easy.  I like phosphoproteomics a little less because it is much tougher to do.  And I probably have to say that I like glycoproteomics the least.  I don't like the fact that I have to use ETD and CID/HCD to sequence by sugars and my peptides.  That is a lot of work and a long cycle time.

But glycoproteomics continues to climb in importance.  I saw a lecture some time this year where the speaker said that every single disease state in man is known to be linked to glycosylation in some form.  Sorry, but I forget who said that.  It was probably at ASMS, since I haven't been to all that many lectures this year.

What if a very major characteristic of cancer was changes in the glycoproteome?  Well then, I guess I'd probably suck it up and fire up the ETD.  This paper in PNAS says that its time to heat up that fluoranthene vial .  In extremely thorough detail this globally spread team looked at the length of the glyco chains on proteins in various cancer types and found a very strong relationship between short chains and cancer progression.  Specifically, the truncation of O-glycans appears to directly induce oncogenesis.

The glycoproteomics was performed with my favorite old workhorse, an Orbi XL + ETD.  The level of validation is mind-boggling.

I recommend this paper for anybody doing anything with cancer.  It really puts into perspective how little we know, but points us in a direction that we maybe should be looking.

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