Exploring intercellular signaling by proteomic approaches


  • Ruijun Tian

    Corresponding author
    1. Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
    • Correspondence: Dr. Ruijun Tian, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X5, Canada

      E-mail: tian@lunenfeld.ca or rjtian@gmail.com

      Fax: +1-416-586-8869

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  • Colour Online: See the article online to view Figs. 1–3 in colour.


Cells live in a close social context by having mutual communication with their local microenvironment. This complex intercellular communication activates dynamic signaling pathways and regulates specific cell fate. MS-based proteomics has been approved to be inevitable for characterizing dynamic protein expression and PTMs on a global scale. However, because of technical difficulties for targeting membrane receptors and secreted proteins, especially in a physiologically relevant manner, systematic characterization of intercellular signaling by MS-based proteomics has largely lagged behind. Here, I will review the latest proteomics technology development and its application to characterizing different modes of intercellular communication including indirect and direct cell–cell communication, and protein translocalization. I will discuss how MS-based proteomics has been applied for systems-level profiling intercellular signaling in defined biological contexts including tumor microenvironment, bacteria/virus–host cell interaction, immune cell interaction, and stem cell niche.