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Cancer Cell Int. 2014 May 28;14:45. doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-14-45. eCollection 2014.

Anti-cancer activity of glucosamine through inhibition of N-linked glycosylation.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 East Duarte Road, Duarte, California 91010, USA.



We have reported that the glucosamine suppressed the proliferation of the human prostate carcinoma cell line DU145 through inhibition of STAT3 signaling. DU145 cells autonomously express IL-6 and the IL-6/STAT3 signaling is activated. IL-6 receptor subunits are subject to N-glycosylation, a posttranslational modification which is important for protein stability and function. We speculated that the inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation by glucosamine might be a functional consequence of the reduced N-glycosylation of gp130.


The human prostate cancer cell lines DU145 and PC-3 and human melanoma cell line A2058 were used in this study. Glucosamine effects on N-glycosylation of glycoproteins were determined by Western blot analysis. IL-6 binding to DU145 cells was analyzed by flow cytometry. The cell proliferation suppression was investigated by colorimetric Janus green staining method.


In DU145 cells glucosamine reduced the N-glycosylation of gp130, decreased IL-6 binding to cells and impaired the phosphorylation of JAK2, SHP2 and STAT3. Glucosamine acts in a very similar manner to tunicamycin, an inhibitor of protein N-glycosylation. Glucosamine-mediated inhibition of N-glycosylation was neither protein- nor cell-specific. Sensitivity of DU145, A2058 and PC-3 cells to glucosamine-induced inhibition of N-glycosylation were well correlated to glucosamine cytotoxicity in these cells.


Our results suggested that the glucosamine-induced global inhibition of protein N-glycosylation might be the basic mechanism underlying its multiple biochemical and cellular effects.


Cancer; Glucosamine; IL-6; N-linked glycosylation; STAT3

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