Multiscale protein networks systematically identify aberrant protein interactions and oncogenic regulators in seven cancer types

Won Min Song, Abdulkadir Elmas, Richard Farias, Peng Xu, Xianxiao Zhou, Benjamin Hopkins, Kuan lin Huang, Bin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Global proteomic data generated by advanced mass spectrometry (MS) technologies can help bridge the gap between genome/transcriptome and functions and hold great potential in elucidating unbiased functional models of pro-tumorigenic pathways. To this end, we collected the high-throughput, whole-genome MS data and conducted integrative proteomic network analyses of 687 cases across 7 cancer types including breast carcinoma (115 tumor samples; 10,438 genes), clear cell renal carcinoma (100 tumor samples; 9,910 genes), colorectal cancer (91 tumor samples; 7,362 genes), hepatocellular carcinoma (101 tumor samples; 6,478 genes), lung adenocarcinoma (104 tumor samples; 10,967 genes), stomach adenocarcinoma (80 tumor samples; 9,268 genes), and uterine corpus endometrial carcinoma UCEC (96 tumor samples; 10,768 genes). Through the protein co-expression network analysis, we identified co-expressed protein modules enriched for differentially expressed proteins in tumor as disease-associated pathways. Comparison with the respective transcriptome network models revealed proteome-specific cancer subnetworks associated with heme metabolism, DNA repair, spliceosome, oxidative phosphorylation and several oncogenic signaling pathways. Cross-cancer comparison identified highly preserved protein modules showing robust pan-cancer interactions and identified endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) and N-acetyltransferase activity as the central functional axes. We further utilized these network models to predict pan-cancer protein regulators of disease-associated pathways. The top predicted pan-cancer regulators including RSL1D1, DDX21 and SMC2, were experimentally validated in lung, colon, breast cancer and fetal kidney cells. In summary, this study has developed interpretable network models of cancer proteomes, showcasing their potential in unveiling novel oncogenic regulators, elucidating underlying mechanisms, and identifying new therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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