Proteomic Analysis of Three Dimensional Organotypic Liver Models


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Virginia Tech


In vitro liver models that closely mimic the in vivo microenvironment are central for understanding hepatic functions and intercellular communication processes. Bottom-up shotgun proteomic analysis of the hepatic cells can lend insight into such processes. This technique employs liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for relative quantification of protein abundances by measuring intensities of their corresponding peptides. Organotypic 3D liver models have been developed in our laboratory that consist of hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) separated by a polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM), which serves as a mimic for the Space of Disse. Each component within these models is easily separable allowing for systematic evaluation of the cells and PEMs. In this study, proteomes of hepatocytes from PEM containing models, cultured with and without LSECs, were compared to those from monolayers. Changes in core metabolism were evaluated among all culture conditions. Overall, all cultures were ketogenic and performed gluconeogenesis. The presence of the PEM led to increases in proteins associated with mitochondrial-based β-oxidation and peroxisomal proteins. The PEMs also limited production of structural proteins, which are linked to dedifferentiation of hepatocytes, suggesting that cell-ECM interactions are essential for maintenance of their liver-like state. The presence of LSECs increased levels of carboxylesterases and other phase I and phase II detoxification enzymes suggesting that intercellular signaling mediates enzyme abundance. Taken together, these results suggest that the cell-cell (from the LSECs) and cell-ECM (from the PEMs) interactions exert different, yet crucial effects, and both are required for the preservation of metabolic liver functions and differentiated phenotypes. Changes in the PEMs as a result of cell culture were also evaluated but exhibited minimal differences at this time point. Proteomes of LSECs monolayers were also characterized. Enzymes related to the metabolism of amino acids, lipids, oxidative phosphorylation and phase I and phase II detoxification processes were all identified in LSECs monolayers highlighting their role in these processes. Characterization of 3DHL LSECs was not possible due to ion suppression resulting from the presence of excess contaminant proteins. Nonetheless, this study provides a foundation in which LSECs from 3D liver models can be compared against in future studies.



Shotgun Proteomics, Liver, In vitro