Research Summary: Identification of Phosphoproteins as Possible Differentiation Markers in All-Trans-Retinoic Acid-Treated Neuroblastoma Cells



Neuroblastic tumors account for 9–10% of pediatric tumors and neuroblastoma (NB) is the first cause of death in pre-school age children. NB is classified in four stages, depending on the extent of spreading. A fifth type of NB, so-called stage 4S (S for special), includes patients with metastatic tumors but with an overall survival that approximates 75% at five years. In most of these cases, the tumor regresses spontaneously and regression is probably associated with delayed neuroblast cell differentiation.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In order to identify new early markers to follow and predict this process for diagnostic and therapeutics intents, we mimicked the differentiation process treating NB cell line SJ-NK-P with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) at different times; therefore the cell proteomic pattern by mass spectrometry and the phosphoproteomic pattern by a 2-DE approach coupled with anti-phosphoserine and anti-phosphotyrosine western blotting were studied.


Proteomic analysis identified only two proteins whose expression was significantly different in treated cells versus control cells: nucleoside diphosphate kinase A (NDKA) and reticulocalbin-1 (RCN1), which were both downregulated after 9 days of ATRA treatment. However, phosphoproteomic analysis identified 8 proteins that were differentially serine-phosphorylated and 3 that were differentially tyrosine-phosphorylated after ATRA treatment. All proteins were significantly regulated (at least 0.5-fold down-regulated). Our results suggest that differentially phosphorylated proteins could be considered as more promising markers of differentiation for NB than differentially expressed proteins.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 5-May-2011

Author(s): Mandili G., Marini C., Carta F., Zanini C., Prato M., Khadjavi A., Turrini F., Giribaldi G.


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