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Glycobiology. 2006 Jan;16(1):54-64. Epub 2005 Aug 31.

ST6GalNAc I expression in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells greatly modifies their O-glycosylation pattern and enhances their tumourigenicity.

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Centre Commun de Mesures Imagerie Cellulaire, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, F-59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


Sialyl-Tn is a carbohydrate antigen overexpressed in several epithelial cancers, including breast cancer, and usually associated with poor prognosis. Sialyl-Tn is synthesized by a CMP-Neu5Ac:GalNAcalpha2,6-sialyltransferase: CMP-Neu5Ac: R-GalNAcalpha1-O-Ser/Thr alpha2,6-sialyltransferase (EC (ST6GalNAc I), which transfers a sialic acid residue in alpha2,6-linkage to the GalNAcalpha1-O-Ser/Thr structure. However, established breast cancer cell lines express neither ST6GalNAc I nor sialyl-Tn. We have previously shown that stable transfection of MDA-MB-231, a human breast cancer cell line, with ST6GalNAc I cDNA induces sialyl-Tn antigen (STn) expression. We report here the modifications of the O-glycosylation pattern of a MUC1-related recombinant protein secreted by MDA-MB-231 sialyl-Tn positive cells. We also show that sialyl-Tn expression and concomitant changes in the overall O-glycan profiles induce a decrease of adhesion and an increase of migration of MDA-MB-231. Moreover, STn positive clones exhibit an increased tumour growth in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. These observations suggest that modification of the O-glycosylation pattern induced by ST6GalNAc I expression are sufficient to enhance the tumourigenicity of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.

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