Current Methods for Identifying Plasma Membrane Proteins as Cancer Biomarkers

Edwin de Jong, Armagan Kocer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Plasma membrane proteins are a special class of biomolecules present on the cellular membrane. They provide the transport of ions, small molecules, and water in response to internal and external signals, define a cell’s immunological identity, and facilitate intra- and intercellular communication. Since they are vital to almost all cellular functions, their mutants, or aberrant expression is linked to many diseases, including cancer, where they are a part of cancer cell-specific molecular signatures and phenotypes. In addition, their surface-exposed domains make them exciting biomarkers for targeting by imaging agents and drugs. This review looks at the challenges in identifying cancer-related cell membrane proteins and the current methodologies that solve most of the challenges. We classified the methodologies as biased, i.e., search cells for the presence of already known membrane proteins. Second, we discuss the unbiased methods that can identify proteins without prior knowledge of what they are. Finally, we discuss the potential impact of membrane proteins on the early detection and treatment of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number409
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Early online date5 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • biomarkers
  • cancer
  • cell surface profiling
  • membrane proteins
  • tumor markers


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