Proteomic Analysis of Plasma Membrane Proteins from Drug Susceptible and Drug Resistant Breast Cancer Cell Lines

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Drug discovery is an important field of research in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Plasma membranes are rich in drug targets and other proteins responsible for cell signaling, transport, signal transduction, and other cellular functions. Information obtained about these proteins, and the pathways they participate in, helps to facilitate the drug discovery process. Although these plasma membrane proteins play important roles in cellular function, they are usually expressed in very low abundance and are therefore hard to identify and analyze. Comparative proteomic analysis of plasma membranes in different types of cells or different disease states of the same cell or tissue type can help to design targeted therapies specific to particular cell or tissue types and can be used in the identification of biomarkers for early disease detection. In order to be able to identify proteins in the plasma membrane it is important to start out with a plasma membrane fraction that is free of contamination from other more abundant proteins from other portions of the cell. 2D gel electrophoresis is the primary protein separation tool for use with proteomics and drug discovery, however, the inability of membrane proteins to be separated using isoelectric focusing, which is the first step in the 2D gel protocol, excludes 2D gel electrophoresis as a viable technique for the separation of membrane proteins.

This thesis develops and evaluates a method to identify proteins found in the plasma membranes of mammalian cells using a modified form of the cationic colloidal silica technique for plasma membrane isolation combined with analysis of these proteins using mass spectrometry. This method is then used in combination with metabolic stable isotope labeling to identify protein expression changes between the mitoxantrone drug susceptible and drug resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines.