Proteomic Analysis Unveils LOXL2’s Pivotal Function in Cancer Microenvironment Manipulation


1. Prostate cancer biomarkers
2. Cancer-associated fibroblasts
3. Cancer Treatment
4. Phosphoproteome
5. LOXL2


In a groundbreaking study, a specific protein, lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2), has been identified as a major regulatory factor influencing the tumor microenvironment in prostate cancer. Through a detailed proteomic profiling of human prostate Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts (CAF), scientists have mapped out pivotal intercellular signaling pathways that contribute to cancer progression. The findings bring a potential translational opportunity for developing novel therapy targets to combat this disease.


Prostate cancer, a common malignancy in males, is substantially influenced by its microenvironment, consisting of various cells and extracellular components that facilitate tumor progression. Among the key players are Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs), which unleash supportive cues for tumorigenesis, creating contrasting biological properties compared to Non-Malignant Prostate Fibroblasts (NPFs). In the quest to understand the mechanics behind this, researchers Elizabeth V. Nguyen, Brooke A. Pereira, Mitchell G. Lawrence, and colleagues undertook a detailed proteomic investigation. Published in the July 2019 issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics (1), their study utilized an advanced proteomic technique to unravel the interaction between CAFs and prostate tumor epithelial cells (DOI: 10.1074/mcp.RA119.001496).


The research team analyzed the proteome and phosphoproteome of patient-matched CAF and NPF samples, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with a hyper reaction monitoring data-independent acquisition (HRM-DIA) workflow. This method allowed them to catalog thousands of proteins and their phosphorylated states, revealing distinct proteomic signatures.


Proteins that showed a significant increase in CAFs versus NPFs highlighted an enrichment in pathways that modulate the extracellular matrix, cell movement, and autocrine and paracrine signaling. Among these proteins, LOXL2 stood out with its marked increase in CAFs, suggesting a potential role as a mediator of tumor microenvironment adaptation. Interestingly, suppression of LOXL2 activity impacted multiple signaling pathways and extracellular matrix organization, indicating a cascading effect on tumor cell behavior.


The influence of LOXL2 in the structural and functional reorganization of the cancer microenvironment supports its position as a central figure in the progression of cancerous activity. Studies such as Tuxhorn et al. (2) and Cunha (3) have long suggested the importance of stromal-epithelial interactions in cancerous tissue. However, the proteomic profile developed by Nguyen and colleagues provides a rich dataset to deconstruct these complex interactions at a molecular level.

The work converges with other studies, including Hagglof & Bergh (4), Ayala et al. (5), and Jia et al. (6), which confirm the vital role of the extracellular matrix and CAFs in prostate cancer progression. Notably, research by Zhang & Liu (7) offers additional perspective on how targeting the stroma could present new therapeutic strategies.

With looming challenges in tumor heterogeneity and treatment resistance, Lawrence et al. (8)’s and Pereira et al. (9)’s methodologies for creating three-dimensional cultures and tissue-engineered constructs contribute to this comprehensive understanding, providing models for future drug testing and biomarker discovery.

Implications and Conclusions

The identification of LOXL2 as a significant regulator in the tumor microenvironment ushers in new possibilities for therapeutic intervention. Targeting this enzyme could thwart the alterations within the stroma that sustain cancer growth and spread. Such an approach could revolutionize prostate cancer treatment, tailoring therapies to disrupt the stroma-cancer cell collaboration crucial for tumor advancement.

The findings of Nguyen and colleagues underscore the necessity for incorporating molecular data into the design of future clinical trials. By applying this proteomic lens to the study of the tumor microenvironment, researchers could distinguish between response and resistance to therapies, potentially leading to the development of more customized, effective treatment regimens.


1. Nguyen, E. V., et al. (2019). Proteomic Profiling of Human Prostate Cancer-associated Fibroblasts (CAF) Reveals LOXL2-dependent Regulation of the Tumor Microenvironment. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, 18(7), 1410–1427. DOI: 10.1074/mcp.RA119.001496
2. Tuxhorn, J. A., et al. (2001). Reactive stroma in prostate cancer progression. The Journal of Urology, 166(6), 2472–2483.
3. Cunha, G. R. (1972). Epithelio-mesenchymal interactions in primordial gland structures which become responsive to androgenic stimulation. The Anatomical Record, 172(2), 179–195.
4. Hagglof, C., & Bergh, A. (2012). The stroma – a key regulator in prostate function and malignancy. Cancers, 4(2), 531–548. DOI: 10.3390/cancers4020531
5. Ayala, G., et al. (2003). Reactive stroma as a predictor of biochemical-free recurrence in prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research, 9(13), 4792–4801.
6. Jia, Z., et al. (2011). Diagnosis of prostate cancer using differentially expressed genes in stroma. Cancer Research, 71(4), 2476–2487. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0827
7. Zhang, J., & Liu, J. (2013). Tumor stroma as targets for cancer therapy. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 137(2), 200–215. DOI: 10.1016/j.pharma.2012.10.002
8. Lawrence, M. G., et al. (2013). A preclinical xenograft model of prostate cancer using human tumors. Nature Protocols, 8(4), 836–848. DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2013.039
9. Pereira, B. A., et al. (2019). Tissue engineered human prostate microtissues reveal key role of mast cell-derived tryptase in potentiating cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF)-induced morphometric transition in vitro. Biomaterials, 197, 72–85. DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.01.033

Ending Note

The integration of cutting-edge proteomic analysis in cancer research holds the key to unravel the myriad ways malignancies manipulate their surroundings to thrive. LOXL2’s modulatory role in this process highlights an exploitable vulnerability in prostate cancer’s armor – one that, once adequately targeted, could herald a new era in cancer therapy. The continued collaboration across molecular, cellular, and clinical domains is imperative as we steer towards an age of precision oncology.

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Last Update: February 22, 2024