Novel role of O-glycosyltransferases GALNT3 and B3GNT3 in the self-renewal of pancreatic cancer stem cells

Srikanth Barkeer, Seema Chugh, Saswati Karmakar, Garima Kaushik, Sanchita Rauth, Satyanarayana Rachagani, Surinder K. Batra, Moorthy P. Ponnusamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Glycosylation plays a critical role in the aggressiveness of pancreatic cancer (PC). Emerging evidences indicate significant involvement of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in PC aggressiveness. However, the importance of glycosylation in pancreatic cancer stem cells (PCSCs) is yet to be addressed. Hence, we evaluated the potential role of glycosylation in maintenance of stemness of PCSCs. Methods: Effect of glycosylation specific inhibitors on growth and PCSCs of PC cells was assessed by MTT assay and Side Population (SP) analysis. Isolated PCSCs/SP were characterized using molecular and functional assays. Expression of tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs) was analyzed in PCSCs by western blotting. Effect of tunicamycin on PCSCs was analyzed by tumorsphere, clonogenicity, migration assay and immunoblotting for CSCs markers. The differential expression of glycogenes in PCSCs compared to non-CSCs were determined by RT-qPCR, immunoblotting and immunofluorescence. Co-expression of GALNT3 and B3GNT3 with CD44v6 was assessed in progression stages of Kras G12D ; Pdx-1-Cre (KC) and Kras G12D ; p53 R172H ; Pdx-1-Cre (KPC) tumors by immunofluorescence. Transient and CRISPR/Cas9 silencing of GALNT3 and B3GNT3 was performed to examine their effect on CSCs maintenance. Results: Inhibition of glycosylation decreased growth and CSCs/SP in PC cells. PCSCs overexpressed CSC markers (CD44v6, ESA, SOX2, SOX9 and ABCG2), exhibited global expressional variation of TACAs and showed higher self-renewal potential. Specifically, N-glycosylation inhibition, significantly decreased tumorsphere formation, migration, and clonogenicity of PCSCs, as well as hypo-glycosylated CD44v6 and ESA. Of note, glycosyltransferases (GFs), GALNT3 and B3GNT3, were significantly overexpressed in PCSCs and co-expressed with CD44v6 at advanced PDAC stages in KC and KPC tumors. Further, GALNT3 and B3GNT3 knockdown led to a decrease in the expression of cell surface markers (CD44v6 and ESA) and self-renewal markers (SOX2 and OCT3/4) in PCSCs. Interestingly, CD44v6 was modified with sialyl Lewis a in PCSCs. Finally, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated GALNT3 KO significantly decreased self-renewal, clonogenicity, and migratory capacity in PCSCs. Conclusions: Taken together, for the first time, our study showed the importance of glycosylation in mediating growth, stemness, and maintenance of PCSCs. These results indicate that elevated GALNT3 and B3GNT3 expression in PCSCs regulate stemness through modulating CSC markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1157
JournalBMC cancer
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 22 2018

Keywords

  • B3GNT3
  • CD44v6
  • GALNT3
  • Glycosylation
  • Pancreatic cancer stem cells
  • Tunicamycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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