Purpose: Immortalization is one of the first changes in cells undergoing carcinogenic transformation. Proteome profiling of the immortalization–senescence transition is expected to provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of early tumorigenesis.
Experimental design: 2-DE and MALDI-MS were used to identify proteins in primary human breast epithelial cells, relevant to the immortalization–senescence transition. Cell and molecular biology and immunohistochemistry were used to validate involvement of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 3 (MAP2K3) in the immortalization–senescence transition.
Results: We identified 71 proteins whose expression changed upon induction of senescence. The identified proteins include regulators of cell growth, death, cell assembly and organization. Analysis of the network formed by the identified proteins suggested that the immortalization-to-senescence transition could affect regulators of the cell cycle, protein synthesis, transport, post-translational modifications, DNA recombination and repair, and lipid and amino acid metabolism. We observed that MAP2K3 was downregulated in immortal human breast epithelial cells and that upregulation of MAP2K3 expression promoted cell senescence. Decreased expression of MAP2K3 was observed in human breast infiltrating ductal carcinomas, as compared to non-cancerous human breast tissues.
Conclusion and clinical relevance: We described a proteome profile of the immortalization-to-senescence transition for human breast epithelial cells, and identified MAP2K3 as a protein that promotes senescence in these cells.