Breast cancer: A precision test for truncated oncoproteins in single cells

A single-cell western blot provides a simple way of studying transcriptionally or post-translationally modifications implicated in resistance to targeted therapies in breast cancer.

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Electrophoretic cytopathology resolves ERBB2 forms with single-cell resolution

A single-cell western blot provides a simple way of studying whether a cancer-related protein found in breast tumors has transcriptionally or post-translationally modified to a truncated form, which is implicated in resistance to targeted therapies. The microfluidic assay, developed by Amy E. Herr from the University of California, Berkeley,USA, and colleagues at Stanford University, involves first dissociating a breast tumor, then isolating each tumor cell in cell-sized well on a microscope slide. Isolated in the well, each cell is broken up and HER2 proteins are size-separated via single-cell electrophoresis, before being immobilized and finally detected with a fluorescent probe that binds to both the full-length and truncated HER2 proteins. Herr’s team assayed eight patient samples and identified two tumor samples with mixed populations of full-length and truncated HER2 proteins, a finding with therapeutic and prognostic relevance for patients.

Published March 2018 in npj Precision Oncology

Marie-Elizabeth Barabas

Consulting Editor, Springer Nature

I'm an interdisciplinary neuroscientist with a research background in peripheral sensory/pain research, retinoblastoma, retinal development, and stem cell research. As a Consulting Editor for Communications Biology, I primarily handle their neuroscience-relevant content. I also attend conferences and meetings to develop a relationship with our readers, authors, and editors. If you see me at a conference, feel free to introduce yourself.