Detection and Quantification of Protein Biomarkers from Fewer than 10 Cells

Nettikadan, Saju
Radke, Korinna
Johnson, James
Xu, Juntao
Lynch, Michael
Mosher, Curtis
Henderson, Eric
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The use of antibody microarrays continues to grow rapidly due to the recent advances in proteomics and automation and the opportunity this combination creates for high throughput multiplexed analysis of protein biomarkers. However, a primary limitation of this technology is the lack of PCR-like amplification methods for proteins. Therefore, to realize the full potential of array-based protein biomarker screening it is necessary to construct assays that can detect and quantify protein biomarkers with very high sensitivity, in the femtomolar range, and from limited sample quantities. We describe here the construction of ultramicroarrays, combining the advantages of microarraying including multiplexing capabilities, higher throughput, and cost savings with the ability to screen very small sample volumes. Antibody ultramicroarrays for the detection of interleukin-6 and prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a widely used biomarker for prostate cancer screening, were constructed. These ultramicroarrays were found to have a high specificity and sensitivity with detection levels using purified proteins in the attomole range. Using these ultramicroarrays, we were able to detect PSA secreted from 100 LNCaP cells in 3 h and from just four LNCaP cells in 24 h. Cellular PSA could also be detected from the lysate of an average of just six cells. This strategy should enable proteomic analysis of materials that are available in very limited quantities such as those collected by laser capture microdissection, neonatal biopsy microspecimens, and forensic samples.


This research was originally published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. Saju Nettikadan, Korinna Radke, James Johnson, Juntao Xu, Michael Lynch, Curtis Mosher, and Eric Henderson. Detection and Quantification of Protein Biomarkers from Fewer than 10 Cells. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. 2006; 5:895-901. © the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.