Coskun E, Jaruga P, Jemth AS, Loseva O, Scanlan LD, Tona A, Lowenthal MS, Helleday T, Dizdaroglu M
DNA Repair (Amst.) 33 (-) 101-110 [2015-09-00; online 2015-06-23]
MTH1 protein sanitizes the nucleotide pool so that oxidized 2'-deoxynucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) cannot be used in DNA replication. Cancer cells require MTH1 to avoid incorporation of oxidized dNTPs into DNA that results in mutations and cell death. Inhibition of MTH1 eradicates cancer, validating MTH1 as an anticancer target. By overexpressing MTH1, cancer cells may mediate cancer growth and resist therapy. To date, there is unreliable evidence suggesting that MTH1 is increased in cancer cells, and available methods to measure MTH1 levels are indirect and semi-quantitative. Accurate measurement of MTH1 in disease-free tissues and malignant tumors of patients may be essential for determining if the protein is truly upregulated in cancers, and for the development and use of MTH1 inhibitors in cancer therapy. Here, we present a novel approach involving liquid chromatography-isotope-dilution tandem mass spectrometry to positively identify and accurately quantify MTH1 in human tissues. We produced full length (15)N-labeled MTH1 and used it as an internal standard for the measurements. Following trypsin digestion, seven tryptic peptides of both MTH1 and (15)N-MTH1 were identified by their full scan and product ion spectra. These peptides provided a statistically significant protein score that would unequivocally identify MTH1. Next, we identified and quantified MTH1 in human disease-free breast tissues and malignant breast tumors, and in four human cultured cell lines, three of which were cancer cells. Extreme expression of MTH1 in malignant breast tumors was observed, suggesting that cancer cells are addicted to MTH1 for their survival. The approach described is expected to be applicable to the measurement of MTH1 levels in malignant tumors vs. surrounding disease-free tissues in cancer patients. This attribute may help develop novel treatment strategies and MTH1 inhibitors as potential drugs, and guide therapies.