Proteomic characterization of phagocytic primary human monocyte-derived macrophages

Volk, Regan F., et al. “Proteomic characterization of phagocytic primary human monocyte-derived macrophages.” RSC Chemical Biology (2022).


Macrophages play a vital role in the innate immune system, identifying and destroying unwanted cells. However, it has been difficult to attain a comprehensive understanding of macrophage protein abundance due to technical limitations. In addition, it remains unclear how changes in proteome composition are linked to phagocytic activity. In this study we developed methods to derive human macrophages and prepare them for mass spectrometry analysis in order to more-deeply understand the proteomic consequences of macrophage stimulation. Interferon gamma (IF-g), an immune stimulating cytokine, was used to induce macrophage activation, increasing phagocytosis of cancer cells by 2-fold. These conditions were used to perform comparative shotgun proteomics between resting macrophages and stimulated macrophages with increased phagocytic activity. Our analysis revealed that macrophages bias their protein production toward biological processes associated with phagocytosis and antigen processing in response to stimulation. We confirmed our findings by antibody-based western blotting experiments, validating both previously reported and novel proteins of interest. In addition to whole protein changes, we evaluated active protein synthesis by treating cells with the methionine surrogate probe homopropargylglycine (HPG). We saw increased rates of HPG incorporation during phagocytosis-inducing stimulation, suggesting protein synthesis rates are altered by stimulation. Together our findings provide the most comprehensive proteomic insight to date into primary human macrophages. We anticipate that this data can be used as a launchpoint to generate new hypotheses about innate immune function.