The Journal of biological chemistry

Cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme induces the expression of the α-2,3-sialyltransferase-3 (ST3Gal-I) in breast cancer.

PMID 23275522


Aberrant glycosylation is a common feature of malignant change. Changes in mucin-type O-linked glycosylation in breast cancer can result in the expression of truncated core 1-based sialylated glycans rather than the core 2-based glycans observed in normal mammary epithelium cells. This has been shown, in part, to be due to changes in the expression of glycosyltransferases, including the up-regulation of some sialyltransferases. Using the breast cancer cell line T47D, we have shown that PGE2, one of the final products of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathway, can induce the mRNA expression of the sialyltransferase α-2,3-sialyltransferase-3 (ST3Gal-I), resulting in increased sialyltransferase activity, demonstrated by a reduction in PNA lectin staining. Induction of COX-2 in the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line also results in the increased expression of ST3Gal-I, leading to increased sialylation of the substrate of ST3Gal-I, core 1 Galβ1,3GalNAc. This effect on sialylation could be reversed by the selective COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib. The use of siRNA to knock down COX-2 and overexpression of COX-2 in MDA-MD-231 cells confirmed the involvement of COX-2 in the up-regulation of ST3Gal-I. Moreover, analysis of the expression of ST3Gal-I and COX-2 by 74 primary breast cancers showed a significant correlation between the two enzymes. COX-2 expression has been associated with a number of tumors, including breast cancer, where its expression is associated with poor prognoses. Thus, these results suggest the intriguing possibility that some of the malignant characteristics associated with COX-2 expression may be via the influence that COX-2 exerts on the glycosylation of tumor cells.