A portrait of tissue phosphoprotein stability in the clinical tissue procurement process

Virginia Espina*, Kirsten H. Edmiston, Michael Heiby, Mariaelena Pierobon, Manuela Sciro, Barbara Merritt, Stacey Banks, Jianghong Deng, Amy J. VanMeter, David H. Geho, Lucia Pastore, Joel Sennesh, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Lance A. Liotta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Little is known about the preanalytical fluctuations of phosphoproteins during tissue procurement for molecular profiling. This information is crucial to establish guidelines for the reliable measurement of these analytes. To develop phosphoprotein profiles of tissue subjected to the trauma of excision, we measured the fidelity of 53 signal pathway phosphoproteins over time in tissue specimens procured in a community clinical practice. This information provides strategies for potential surrogate markers of stability and the design of phosphoprotein preservative/fixation solutions. Eleven different specimen collection time course experiments revealed augmentation (±20% from the time 0 sample) of signal pathway phosphoprotein levels as well as decreases over time independent of tissue type, post-translational modification, and protein subcellular location (tissues included breast, colon, lung, ovary, and uterus (endometrium/myometrium) and metastatic melanoma). Comparison across tissue specimens showed an >20% decrease of protein kinase B (AKT) Ser-473 (p < 0.002) and myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate protein Ser-152/156 (p < 0.0001) within the first 90-min postexcision. Proteins in apoptotic (cleaved caspase-3 Asp-175 (p < 0.001)), proliferation/survival/hypoxia (IRS-1 Ser-612 (p < 0.0003), AMP-activated protein kinase β Ser-108 (p < 0.005), ERK Thr-202/Tyr-204 (p < 0.003), and GSK3αβ Ser-21/9 (p < 0.01)), and transcription factor pathways (STAT1 Tyr-701 (p < 0.005) and cAMP response element-binding protein Ser-133 (p < 0.01)) showed >20% increases within 90-min postprocurement. Endothelial nitric-oxide synthase Ser-1177 did not change over the time period evaluated with breast or leiomyoma tissue. Treatment with phosphatase or kinase inhibitors alone revealed that tissue kinase pathways are active ex vivo. Combinations of kinase and phosphatase inhibitors appeared to stabilize proteins that exhibited increases in the presence of phosphatase inhibitors alone (ATF-2 Thr-71, SAPK/JNK Thr-183/Tyr-185, STAT1 Tyr-701, JAK1 Tyr-1022/1023, and PAK1/PAK2 Ser- 199/204/192/197). This time course study 1) establishes the dynamic nature of specific phosphoproteins in excised tissue, 2) demonstrates augmented phosphorylation in the presence of phosphatase inhibitors, 3) shows that kinase inhibitors block the upsurge in phosphorylation of phosphoproteins, 4) provides a rational strategy for room temperature preservation of proteins, and 5) constitutes a foundation for developing evidence-based tissue procurement guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1998-2018
Number of pages21
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


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