Surgical tumor margins are intended to encompass residual tumor cells but may not always accurately delineate the boundary between tumor and normal tissue. Efforts to define tumor margins based on molecular analysis have achieved limited success. Furthermore, no clinical trials have addressed the scope of the tumor microenvironment. Here, we considered the tumor cell population and surrounding microenvironment in delineating tumor margins, classifying breast cancer into tumor and normal zones, and introducing the concept of an interface zone, the region between the invading tumor front and normal tissue, which develops during tumor invasion and metastasis through remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. Pathological signatures of invasion markers in tumor tissues are most dynamic within the invading tumor front. We compared protein profiles of tumor, normal, and interface zones using MALDI-MS. Proteins upregulated in the interface zone were identified by peptide mass fingerprinting and confirmed by database searching with chemically assisted MALDI-PSD spectra. Upregulation was confirmed for RhoGDIα, CAPG, WDR1, and CK8 by Western and immunohistochemical analyses. Our results demonstrate that the molecular profile of the interface zone is unique and suggest that upregulation of proteins here may be related to progression and metastasis of breast carcinomas.
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