Heat shock protein 72 (HSP72) is an intracellular molecular chaperone that is overexpressed in tumor cells, and has also been detected in extracellular regions such as the blood. HSP72 forms complexes with peptides and proteins that are released from tumors. Accordingly, certain HSP72-binding proteins/peptides present in the blood of cancer patients may be derived from tumor cells. In this study, to effectively identify low-abundance proteins/peptides in the blood as tumor markers, we established a method for isolating HSP72-binding proteins/peptides from serum. Nine HSP72-specific monoclonal antibodies were conjugated to N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide-activated Sepharose beads (NHq) and used to isolate HSP72 complexes from serum samples. Precipitated proteins were then identified by LC-MS/MS analysis. Notably, this approach enabled the isolation of low-abundance proteins from serum without albumin removal. Moreover, by subjecting the serum samples of ten patients with multiple myeloma (MM) to NHq analysis, we identified 299 proteins present in MM HSP72 complexes, including 65 intracellular proteins. Among the intracellular proteins detected, 21 were present in all serum samples tested, while 11 were detected in both the conditioned media from cultured multiple myeloma cells and serum from MM patients. These results suggest that the NHq method can be applied to discover candidate tumor markers.
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