O-glycan sialylation alters galectin-3 subcellular localization and decreases chemotherapy sensitivity in gastric cancer.
Santos SN., Junqueira MS., Francisco G., Vilanova M., Magalhães A., Dias Baruffi M., Chammas R., Harris AL., Reis CA., Bernardes ES.
ST6GalNAc-I, the sialyltransferase responsible for sialyl-Tn (sTn) synthesis, has been previously reported to be positively associated with cancer aggressiveness. Here we describe a novel sTn-dependent mechanism for chemotherapeutic resistance. We show that sTn protects cancer cells against chemotherapeutic-induced cell death by decreasing the interaction of cell surface glycan receptors with galectin-3 and increasing its intracellular accumulation. Moreover, exogenously added galectin-3 potentiated the chemotherapeutics-induced cytotoxicity in sTn non-expressing cells, while sTn overexpressing cells were protected. We also found that the expression of sTn was associated with a reduction in galectin-3-binding sites in human gastric samples tumors. ST6GalNAc-I knockdown restored galectin-3-binding sites on the cell surface and chemotherapeutics sensibility. Our results clearly demonstrate that an interruption of O-glycans extension caused by ST6GalNAc-I enzymatic activity leads to tumor cells resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs, highlighting the need for the development of novel strategies to target galectin-3 and/or ST6GalNAc-I.