Activity-based protein profiling reveals active serine proteases that drive malignancy of human ovarian clear cell carcinoma

Christine Mehner, Alexandra Hockla, Mathew Coban, Benjamin Madden, Rosendo Estrada, Derek C. Radisky, Evette S. Radisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ovarian clear cell carcinoma (OCCC) is an understudied poor prognosis subtype of ovarian cancer lacking in effective targeted therapies. Efforts to define molecular drivers of OCCC malignancy may lead to new therapeutic targets and approaches. Among potential targets are secreted proteases, enzymes which in many cancers serve as key drivers of malignant progression. Here, we found that inhibitors of trypsin-like serine proteases suppressed malignant phenotypes of OCCC cell lines. To identify the proteases responsible for malignancy in OCCC, we employed activity-based protein profiling to directly analyze enzyme activity. We developed an activity-based probe featuring an arginine diphenylphosphonate warhead to detect active serine proteases of trypsin-like specificity and a biotin handle to facilitate affinity purification of labeled proteases. Using this probe, we identified active trypsin-like serine proteases within the complex proteomes secreted by OCCC cell lines, including two proteases in common, tissue plasminogen activator and urokinase-type plasminogen activator. Further interrogation of these proteases showed that both were involved in cancer cell invasion and proliferation of OCCC cells and were also detected in in vivo models of OCCC. We conclude the detection of tissue plasminogen activator and urokinase-type plasminogen activator as catalytically active proteases and significant drivers of the malignant phenotype may point to these enzymes as targets for new therapeutic strategies in OCCC. Our activity-based probe and profiling methodology will also serve as a valuable tool for detection of active trypsin-like serine proteases in models of other cancers and other diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102146
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • activity-based probe
  • activity-based protein profiling (ABPP)
  • enzyme inhibitor
  • ovarian cancer
  • peptidase
  • protein chemical modification
  • proteolytic enzyme
  • proteomics
  • serine protease
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Activity-based protein profiling reveals active serine proteases that drive malignancy of human ovarian clear cell carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this