Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Proteome Science and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Protein and phosphoprotein levels in glioma and adenocarcinoma cell lines grown in normoxia and hypoxia in monolayer and three-dimensional cultures

Victor A Levin1*, Sonali Panchabhai1, Li Shen2 and Keith A Baggerly2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuro-Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

2 Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Proteome Science 2012, 10:5  doi:10.1186/1477-5956-10-5

Published: 25 January 2012



Three dimensional (3D) growths of cancer cells in vitro are more reflective of in situ cancer cell growth than growth in monolayer (2D). The present study is designed to determine changes in protein and phosphoprotein that reflect adaptation of tumor cells to 3D as compared to 2D. Since relative hypoxia is a common feature of most solid tumors, the present study also aims to look at the impact of transition from normoxia to hypoxia in these two growth conditions.


Using reverse-phase protein arrays, we compared levels of 121 different phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated proteins in 5 glioma and 6 adenocarcinoma lines under conditions of 3D and monolayer culture in normoxia and hypoxia. A three-way analysis of variance showed levels of 82 antibodies differed between media (2D vs. 3D) and 49 differed between treatments (hypoxia vs. normoxia). Comparing 2D to 3D growth, 7 proteins were commonly (i.e., > 50% of tumors) elevated in 3D: FAK, AKT, Src, GSK3αβ, TSC2, p38, and NFκβp65. Conversely, 7 other proteins are commonly decreased: ATRIP, ATR, β-catenin, BCL-X, cyclin B1, Egr-1, and HIF-1α. Comparing normoxia to hypoxia, only NCKIPSD was commonly elevated in hypoxia; 6 proteins were decreased: cyclin B1, 4EBP1(Ser65), c-Myc, SMAD3(Ser423), S6(Ser235), and S6(Ser240). Hypoxia affected glioma cell lines differently from adenocarcinoma cell lines: 8 proteins were increased in gliomas (BAX, caspase 7, HIF-1α, c-JUN, MEK1, PARP 1 cleaved, Src, and VEGFR2) and none in adenocarcinomas.


We identified subsets of proteins with clearly concordant/discordant behavior between gliomas and adenocarcinomas. In general, monolayer to 3D culture differences are clearer than normoxia to hypoxia differences, with anti-apoptotic, cytoskeletal rearrangement and cell survival pathways emphasized in the former and mTOR pathway, transcription, cell-cycle arrest modulation, and increased cell motility in the latter.

glioblastoma; breast cancer; ovarian cancer; pancreatic cancer