Research Papers:

Altered glycosylation of several metastasis-associated glycoproteins with terminal GalNAc defines the highly invasive cancer cell phenotype

Elham Khosrowabadi _, Tomasz Wenta, Salla Keskitalo, Aki Manninen and Sakari Kellokumpu

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Elham Khosrowabadi1, Tomasz Wenta1, Salla Keskitalo2, Aki Manninen1 and Sakari Kellokumpu1

1 University of Oulu, Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Oulu, Finland

2 Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence to:

Elham Khosrowabadi, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer; invasion; glycosylation; glycocode; terminal GalNAc; Helix Pomatia agglutinin (HPA)

Received: September 30, 2021     Accepted: December 08, 2021     Published: January 10, 2022

Copyright: © 2022 Khosrowabadi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Several distinct metastasis-associated glycosylation changes have been shown to promote cancer cell invasion and metastasis, the main cause of death of cancer patients. However, it is unclear whether their presence reflects cell- or tissue-specific variations for metastasis, or species needed to drive different phases of the metastatic cascade. To address this issue from a different perspective, we investigated here whether different cancer cell lines share any glycotopes that are common and important for their invasive phenotype. By using lectin microarray glycan profiling and an established myoma tissue-based 3D invasion assay, we identified a single glycotope recognized by Helix Pomatia agglutinin (HPA), whose expression level in different cancer cells correlated significantly with their invasive potential. Lectin pull-down assay and LC-MS/MS analysis in highly- (A431 and SW-48) and poorly invasive (HepG2 and RCC4) cancer cells revealed ~85 glycoproteins of which several metastasis-promoting members of the integrin family of cell adhesion receptors, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the matrix metalloproteinase-14 (MMP-14) were among the abundant ones. Moreover, we showed that the level of the GalNAc glycotope in MMP-14, EGFR, αV-, β1- and β4 integrin in highly and poorly invasive cancer cells correlated positively with their invasive potential. Collectively, our findings suggest that altered glycosylation of several metastasis-associated glycoproteins with terminal GalNAc drives the highly invasive cancer cell phenotype.

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