J Proteome Res. 2007 Jul;6(7):2509-17. Epub 2007 Jun 5.
1Immunotope Inc., The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18902, USA.
Elimination of cancer through early detection and treatment is the ultimate goal of cancer research and is especially critical for ovarian and other forms of cancer typically diagnosed at very late stages that have very poor response rates. Proteomics has opened new avenues for the discovery of diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Immunoproteomics, which defines the subset of proteins involved in the immune response, holds considerable promise for providing a better understanding of the early-stage immune response to cancer as well as important insights into antigens that may be suitable for immunotherapy. Early administration of immunotherapeutic vaccines can potentially have profound effects on prevention of metastasis and may potentially cure through efficient and complete tumor elimination. We developed a mass-spectrometry-based method to identify novel autoantibody-based serum biomarkers for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer that uses native tumor-associated proteins immunoprecipitated by autoantibodies from sera obtained from cancer patients and from cancer-free controls to identify autoantibody signatures that occur at high frequency only in cancer patient sera. Interestingly, we identified a subset of more than 50 autoantigens that were also processed and presented by MHC class I molecules on the surfaces of ovarian cancer cells and thus were common to the two immunological processes of humoral and cell-mediated immunity. These shared autoantigens were highly representative of families of proteins with roles in key processes in carcinogenesis and metastasis, such as cell cycle regulation, cell proliferation, apoptosis, tumor suppression, and cell adhesion. Autoantibodies appearing at the early stages of cancer suggest that this detectable immune response to the developing tumor can be exploited as early-stage biomarkers for the development of ovarian cancer diagnostics. Correspondingly, because the T-cell immune response depends on MHC class I processing and presentation of peptides, proteins that go through this pathway are potential candidates for the development of immunotherapeutics designed to activate a T-cell immune response to cancer. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study that identifies and categorizes proteins that are involved in both humoral and cell-mediated immunity against ovarian cancer, and it may have broad implications for the discovery and selection of theranostic molecular targets for cancer therapeutics and diagnostics in general.