Neoplastic cell enrichment of tumor tissues using coring and laser microdissection for proteomic and genomic analyses of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Qing Kay Li, Yingwei Hu, Lijun Chen, Michael Schnaubelt, Daniel Cui Zhou, Yize Li, Rita Jui Hsien Lu, Mathangi Thiagarajan, Galen Hostetter, Chelsea J. Newton, Scott D. Jewell, Gil Omenn, Ana I. Robles, Mehdi Mesri, Oliver F. Bathe, Bing Zhang, Li Ding, Ralph H. Hruban, Daniel W. Chan, Hui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The identification of differentially expressed tumor-associated proteins and genomic alterations driving neoplasia is critical in the development of clinical assays to detect cancers and forms the foundation for understanding cancer biology. One of the challenges in the analysis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the low neoplastic cellularity and heterogeneous composition of bulk tumors. To enrich neoplastic cells from bulk tumor tissue, coring, and laser microdissection (LMD) sampling techniques have been employed. In this study, we assessed the protein and KRAS mutation changes associated with samples obtained by these enrichment techniques and evaluated the fraction of neoplastic cells in PDAC for proteomic and genomic analyses. Methods: Three fresh frozen PDAC tumors and their tumor-matched normal adjacent tissues (NATs) were obtained from three sampling techniques using bulk, coring, and LMD; and analyzed by TMT-based quantitative proteomics. The protein profiles and characterizations of differentially expressed proteins in three sampling groups were determined. These three PDACs and samples of five additional PDACs obtained by the same three sampling techniques were also subjected to genomic analysis to characterize KRAS mutations. Results: The neoplastic cellularity of eight PDACs ranged from less than 10% to over 80% based on morphological review. Distinctive proteomic patterns and abundances of certain tumor-associated proteins were revealed when comparing the tumors and NATs by different sampling techniques. Coring and bulk tissues had comparable proteome profiles, while LMD samples had the most distinct proteome composition compared to bulk tissues. Further genomic analysis of bulk, cored, or LMD samples demonstrated that KRAS mutations were significantly enriched in LMD samples while coring was less effective in enriching for KRAS mutations when bulk tissues contained a relatively low neoplastic cellularity. Conclusions: In addition to bulk tissues, samples from LMD and coring techniques can be used for proteogenomic studies. The greatest enrichment of neoplastic cellularity is obtained with the LMD technique.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalClinical Proteomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Bulk tissue
  • Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC)
  • Laser microdissection (LMD)
  • Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry
  • TMT-labeling
  • Tissue coring
  • Tissue sampling techniques


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