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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 6, Issue 4, Pages 236-243
Conference review

Proteomic Analysis of Colorectal Cancer: Prefractionation Strategies Using two-Dimensional Free-Flow Electrophoresis

Joint Proteomics Laboratory, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Melbourne Branch), The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, PO Box 2008, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

Received 11 March 2005; Revised 16 March 2005; Accepted 17 March 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This review deals with the application of a new prefractionation tool, free-flow electrophoresis (FFE), for proteomic analysis of colorectal cancer (CRC). CRC is a leading cause of cancer death in the Western world. Early detection is the single most important factor influencing outcome of CRC patients. If identified while the disease is still localized, CRC is treatable. To improve outcomes for CRC patients there is a pressing need to identify biomarkers for early detection (diagnostic markers), prognosis (prognostic indicators), tumour responses (predictive markers) and disease recurrence (monitoring markers). Despite recent advances in the use of genomic analysis for risk assessment, in the area of biomarker identification genomic methods alone have yet to produce reliable candidate markers for CRC. For this reason, attention is being directed towards proteomics as a complementary analytical tool for biomarker identification. Here we describe a proteomics separation tool, which uses a combination of continuous FFE, a liquid-based isoelectric focusing technique, in the first dimension, followed by rapid reversed-phase HPLC (1–6 min/analysis) in the second dimension. We have optimized imaging software to present the FFE/RP-HPLC data in a virtual 2D gel-like format. The advantage of this liquid based fractionation system over traditional gel-based fractionation systems is the ability to fractionate large quantity protein samples. Unlike 2D gels, the method is applicable to both high-Mr proteins and small peptides, which are difficult to separate, and in the case of peptides, are not retained in standard 2D gels.