The utility of isotope-coded protein labeling for prioritization of proteins found in ovarian cancer patient urine

Urine offers a number of attractive features as a sample type for biomarker discovery, including noninvasive sampling, quantity and availability, stability, and a narrow dynamic range. In this study we report the first application of isotope coded protein labeling (ICPL), coupled with in-solution isoelectric fractionation and LC-MALDI-TOF/TOF, to examine and prioritize urinary proteins from ovarian cancer patients. Following the definition of stringent exclusion criteria a total of 579 proteins were identified with 43% providing quantitation data. Protein abundance changes were validated for selected proteins by ESI-Qq-TOF MS, following which Western blot and immunohistochemical analysis by tissue microarray was used to explore the biological relevance of the proteins identified. Several established markers (e.g., HE4, osteopontin) were identified at increased levels in ovarian cancer patient urine, validating the approach used; we also identified a number of potential marker candidates (e.g., phosphatidylethanolamine binding protein 1, cell-adhesion molecule 1) previously unreported in the context of ovarian cancer. We conclude that the ICPL strategy for identification and relative quantitation of urine proteins is an appropriate tool for biomarker discovery studies, and can be applied for the selection of potential biomarker candidates for further characterization.