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Cancer Res. 2010 Aug 1;70(15):6344-51. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1887. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

GlcNAcylation plays an essential role in breast cancer metastasis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, School of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China.


GlcNAcylation, a dynamic posttranslational modification, is involved in a wide range of biological processes and some human diseases. Although there is emerging evidence that some tumor-associated proteins are modified by GlcNAcylation, the role of GlcNAcylation in tumor progression remains unclear. Here, we show that GlcNAcylation enhances the migration/invasion of breast cancer cells in vitro and lung metastasis in vivo. The decrease of cell surface E-cadherin is the molecular mechanism underlying GlcNAcylation-induced breast cancer metastasis. p120 and beta-catenin, but not E-cadherin, are GlcNAcylated; the GlcNAcylation of p120 and beta-catenin might play roles in the decrease of cell surface E-cadherin. Moreover, immunohistochemistry analysis indicated that the global GlcNAcylation level in breast tumor tissues is elevated significantly as compared with that in the corresponding adjacent tissues; further, GlcNAcylation was significantly enhanced in metastatic lymph nodes compared with their corresponding primary tumor tissues. This is the first report to clearly elucidate the roles and mechanisms whereby GlcNAcylation influences the malignant properties of breast cancer cells. These results also suggest that GlcNAcylation might be a potential target for the diagnosis and therapy of breast cancer.

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