Search for the Tumor-Associated Proteins of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Collected in Taiwan using Proteomics Strategy

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) accounts for more than 90% of malignant tumors of the oral cavity. In Taiwan, oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is among the most frequent malignancies, largely due to betal quid chewing. Despite the recent improvement in treatment results, the long-term outcome of OSCC generally remains poor, especially for those with advanced diseases. It is therefore desirable to identify potential biomarkers that may aid in risk stratification and perhaps the development of therapeutic targets. In this study, we exploited two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) coupled with mass spectrometry to compare the proteome maps of 10 OSCC specimens with their adjacent nontumorous epithelia to identify differentially expressed proteins. Comparative proteomics indicated that 17 proteins were differentially expressed in OSCC with 11 up-regulated and 6 down-regulated proteins. These deregulated proteins participated in cytoskeletal functions, cell signaling, antiapoptosis, angiogenesis, lipid metabolism, drug metabolism, and protein translation/turnover. They were all associated with tumor development in various cancers. Among the dys-regulated proteins, the immunoexpression of three proteins including nicotinamide N-methyltransferase, apolipoprotein AI, and 14-3-3 zeta were evaluated in 38 OSCCs of testing cohort to confirm the proteomics data. Subsequently, the expression of 14-3-3 zeta, as the most relevant to OSCC progression determined by testing cohort, was further assessed in 80 OSCCs of independent validation cohort to identify the clinical relevance of its expression. By this comprehensive study, we identified 14-3-3 zeta as the only prognosticator of local recurrence-free survival (LRFS) and also an independently predicted factor of disease-specific survival (DSS).