Signal pathway profiling of epithelial and stromal compartments of colonic carcinoma reveals epithelial-mesenchymal transition

K. M. Sheehan, C. Gulmann*, G. S. Eichler, J. N. Weinstein, H. L. Barrett, E. W. Kay, R. M. Conroy, L. A. Liotta, E. F. Petricoin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Molecular crosstalk, including reciprocal stimulation, is theorized to take place between epithelial cancer cells and surrounding non-neoplastic stromal cells. This is the rationale for stromal therapy, which could eliminate support of a cancer by its genetically stable stroma. Epithelial-stromal crosstalk is so far poorly documented in vivo, and cell cultures and animal experiments may not provide accurate models. The current study details stromal-epithelial signalling pathways in 35 human colon cancers, and compares them with matched normal tissues using quantitative proteomic microarrays. Lysates prepared from separately microdissected epithelium and stroma were analysed using antibodies against 61 cell signalling proteins, most of which recognize activated phospho-isoforms. Analyses using unsupervised and supervised statistical methods suggest that cell signalling pathway profiles in stroma and epithelium appear more similar to each other in tumours than in normal colon. This supports the concept that coordinated crosstalk occurs between epithelium and stroma in cancer and suggests epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, the data herein suggest that it is driven by cell proliferation pathways and that, specifically, several key molecules within the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway may play an important role. Given recent findings of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in therapy-resistant tumour epithelium, these findings could have therapeutic implications for colon cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Colon cancer
  • Microdissection
  • Protein microarray
  • Proteomics
  • Stroma


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