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Int J Cancer. 1997 May 16;71(4):556-64.

Altered mRNA expression of specific molecular species of fucosyl- and sialyl-transferases in human colorectal cancer tissues.

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Laboratory of Experimental Pathology, Research Institute, Aichi Cancer Center, Nagoya, Chikusaku, Japan.


Human colorectal cancers express various cancer-associated carbohydrate determinants such as Lewis Y or sialyl Lewis A, suggesting a considerable alteration in glycosyltransferase activities occurring upon malignant transformation. We investigated the mRNA amounts of fucosyltransferase (Fuc-T) and sialyltransferase (ST) isoenzymes, including Fuc-T III, IV, V, VI and VII and ST-3N, ST-30 and ST-4, in human colorectal cancer tissues by Northern blotting and RT-PCR. Regarding fucosyltransferases, mRNA of Fuc-T III and VI was not significantly altered, and only Fuc-T IV mRNA showed a moderate increase in cancer tissues when compared with adjacent non-malignant colonic epithelia taken from the same patient (273 +/- 96%; p < 0.001). The moderate increase of Fuc-T IV message may be related to an enhanced expression of Lewis Y in colon cancer tissues. In the ST isoenzymes, mRNA for ST-3N remained unchanged, whereas that for ST-4 decreased significantly in cancer tissues, to 32 +/- 29%, (p < 0.005). The most remarkable finding was that the message of ST-30 was prominently increased in cancer tissues compared with non-malignant colorectal mucosa. When further investigated by quantitative RT-PCR assays on a larger series of patients with colorectal cancers, the average increase in mRNA for ST-30 was 459 +/- 200% compared with that in adjacent non-malignant epithelium (significant at p < 0.0001). The increase of ST-30 message was more prominent in the cancer tissues strongly expressing sialyl Lewis A than in the cancer tissues expressing sialyl Lewis A only weakly or moderately (significant at p < 0.05). The marked increase in the message of ST-30 is suggested to be related to an enhanced expression of sialylated carbohydrate determinants in colon cancer tissues including sialyl Lewis A, since the enzyme exhibited a significant activity against the type 1 chain carbohydrate substrate and produced the precursors for sialyl Lewis A synthesis, when its cDNA was expressed in Cos-7 cells.

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