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J Carcinog. 2018 Sep 25;17:5. doi: 10.4103/jcar.JCar_7_18. eCollection 2018.

Role of aberrant glycosylation enzymes in oral cancer progression.

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Department of Cancer Biology, Molecular Oncology Laboratory, The Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.



Carcinogenesis, a multistep process involves sequential changes during neoplastic transformation. The various hallmarks of cancer aid in cell survival, proliferation, and dissemination. Aberrant glycosylation, a recently defined hallmark of cancer, is influenced by glycosylation enzymes during carcinogenesis. Therefore, the present study measured α-2,3 and α-2,6 sialyltransferase (ST), sialidase, and α-L-fucosidase activity in patients with oral precancerous conditions (OPC) and oral cancer patients.


The study enrolled 100 oral cancer patients, 50 patients with OPC, 100 healthy controls, and 46 posttreatment follow-ups of oral cancer patients. Blood and saliva were collected from all the participants.


Sialidase activity was measured by spectrofluorimetric method, α-2,3 and α-2,6 ST by ELISA using biotinylated lectins, and α-L-fucosidase by spectrophotometric method.


The results depicted increased levels of sialidase, α-2,3 and α-2,6 ST, α-L-fucosidase in patients with OPC and oral cancer patients. Receiver operating characteristic curve indicated significant discriminatory efficacy in distinguishing controls and oral cancer patients for serum and salivary sialidase and α-L-fucosidase activity, and serum α-2,6 ST. Furthermore, serum and salivary α-L-fucosidase activity and serum sialidase activity significantly distinguished controls and patients with OPC. Serum and salivary sialidase, α-L-fucosidase, and serum α-2,3 ST activity were higher in patients with metastasis as compared to nonmetastatic patients. Higher values of serum α-L-fucosidase activity were significantly associated with low-overall survival.


The increased levels of enzymes correlated with tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis in oral cancer patients. The alterations in glycosyltransferases/glycosidases thus support the view of glycosylation as a hallmark of cancer.


Fucosidase; fucosyltransferase; glycosylation; glycosyltransferase; hallmark; oral cancer; saliva; sialidase; sialyltransferase

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