Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices
- ST6Gal-I, an enzyme upregulated in numerous malignancies, adds α2-6-linked sialic acids to select membrane receptors, thereby modulating receptor signaling and cell phenotype. In this study, we investigated ST6Gal-I’s role in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) using the Suit2 pancreatic cancer cell line, which has low endogenous ST6Gal-I and limited metastatic potential, along with two metastatic Suit2-derived subclones, S2-013 and S2-LM7AA, which have upregulated ST6Gal-I. RNA-Seq results suggested that the metastatic subclones had greater activation of EMT-related gene networks than parental Suit2 cells, and forced overexpression of ST6Gal-I in the Suit2 line was sufficient to activate EMT pathways.
- Programmed cell death promotes homeostatic cell turnover in the epithelium but is dysregulated in cancer. The glycosyltransferase ST6Gal-I is known to block homeostatic apoptosis through α2,6-linked sialylation of the death receptor TNFR1 in many cell types. However, its role has not been investigated in gastric epithelial cells or gastric tumorigenesis. We determined that human gastric antral epithelium rarely expressed ST6Gal-I, but the number of ST6Gal-I–expressing epithelial cells increased significantly with advancing premalignancy leading to cancer.
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis. Gemcitabine, as a single agent or in combination therapy, remains the frontline chemotherapy despite its limited efficacy due to de novo or acquired chemoresistance. There is an acute need to decipher mechanisms underlying chemoresistance and identify new targets to improve patient outcomes. Here, we report a novel role for the ST6Gal-I sialyltransferase in gemcitabine resistance. Utilizing MiaPaCa-2 and BxPC-3 PDAC cells, we found that knockdown (KD) of ST6Gal-I expression, as well as removal of surface α2–6 sialic acids by neuraminidase, enhances gemcitabine-mediated cell death assessed via clonogenic assays and cleaved caspase 3 expression.