The bioenergetic signature of lung adenocarcinomas is a molecular marker of cancer diagnosis and prognosis

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The aim of this study was to investigate the mitochondrial bioenergetic signature of lung adenocarcinomas as a prognostic marker of cancer progression. For this purpose, a series of 90 lung adenocarcinomas and 10 uninvolved lung samples were examined for quantitative differences in protein expression using two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The β subunit of the mitochondrial H+-ATP synthase (β-F1-ATPase) and heat shock protein 60 (Hsp 60), and the glycolytic glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), used to define the bioenergetic cellular (BEC) index, were identified using mass spectrometry and specific antibodies. Correlations of the expression level of the protein markers and of the BEC index were established with the clinicopathological information of the tumors and the follow-up data of the patients. The expression of β-F1-ATPase is significantly reduced in lung adenocarcinomas in the absence of significant changes in the expression of Hsp 60 and of a major GAPDH isoform. Cross-validation analysis using the β-F1-ATPase/Hsp 60 ratio and GAPDH expression as predictor variables revealed a classification sensitivity of 97.3%. The β-F1-ATPase/Hsp 60 ratio is significantly higher in well differentiated and bronchioloalveolar tumors than in moderate or poorly differentiated and in bronchial-derived tumors. The BEC index of T1 tumors was significantly higher than that of T2 tumors. Likewise, stage IA tumors had a higher BEC index than stage IB tumors. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis using the BEC index as predictor of survival revealed that within tumors of the same size or stage I or with no lymph node metastasis (N0) the patients bearing ‘low’ BEC index tumors had a significant worse prognosis. We conclude that the bioenergetic signature of lung adenocarcinomas is altered, further providing a relevant marker for the diagnosis and classification of lung adenocarcinomas, and for the prognosis of lung cancer patients.

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