Cancer letters

Reciprocal feedback regulation of ST3GAL1 and GFRA1 signaling in breast cancer cells.

PMID 30040982


GFRA1 and RET are overexpressed in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers. Binding of GDNF to GFRA1 triggers RET signaling leading to ER phosphorylation and estrogen-independent transcriptional activation of ER-dependent genes. Both GFRA1 and RET are membrane proteins which are N-glycosylated but no O-linked sialylation site on GFRA1 or RET has been reported. We found GFRA1 to be a substrate of ST3GAL1-mediated O-linked sialylation, which is crucial to GDNF-induced signaling in ER-positive breast cancer cells. Silencing ST3GAL1 in breast cancer cells reduced GDNF-induced phosphorylation of RET, AKT and ERα, as well as GDNF-mediated cell proliferation. Moreover, GDNF induced transcription of ST3GAL1, revealing a positive feedback loop regulating ST3GAL1 and GDNF/GFRA1/RET signaling in breast cancers. Finally, we demonstrated ST3GAL1 knockdown augments anti-cancer efficacy of inhibitors of RET and/or ER. Moreover, high expression of ST3GAL1 was associated with poor clinical outcome in patients with late stage breast cancer and high expression of both ST3GAL1 and GFRA1 adversely impacted outcome in those with high grade tumors.

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EHU081781 MISSION® esiRNA, esiRNA human ST3GAL1 (esiRNA1)