Identification of potential classes of glycoligands mediating dynamic endothelial adhesion of human tumor cells


One critical step of metastasis formation is the extravasation of circulating tumor cells from the bloodstream. This process requires the dynamic interaction of cell adhesion molecules like E-selectin on endothelial cells with carbohydrate ligands on tumor cells. To characterize these glycans in a comprehensible approach, the rolling, tethering, and firm adhesion of nine human tumor cell lines on human umbilical vein endothelial cells was analyzed using laminar flow adhesion assays. The tumor cell lines were grouped into three subsets by their canonical E-selectin ligand status (sialyl-Lewis A and X +/+, -/+, -/-) and their adhesiveness was compared after enzymatic, pharmacologic, chemical treatment or antibody blockade of the tumor cells or endothelial cells, respectively. Tumor cells were also screened regarding their glycosyltransferase expression profile. We found that although E-selectin and terminal α2,3-sialic acid largely determined firm adhesion, adhesive events did not exclusively depend on the presence of sialyl-Lewis A and/or sialyl-Lewis X. Nevertheless, two of the three sialyl-Lewis A/X-/- tumor cells additionally or fully depended on vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 for firm adhesion. The significance of O-GalNAc- and N-glycans for adhesion varied remarkably among the tumor cells. The sialyl-Lewis A/X+/+ subset showed glycoprotein-independent adhesion, suggesting a role of glycolipids as well. All sialyl-Lewis A/X-/- tumor cells lacked FUT3 and FUT7 expression as opposed to sialyl-Lewis A/X+/+ or -/+ cell lines. In summary, the glycans on tumor cells mediating endothelial adhesion are not as much restricted to sialyl-Lewis A /X as previously assumed. The present study specifically suggests α2,3-linked sialic acid, O-GalNAc glycans, glycosphingolipids, and FUT3/FUT7 products as promising targets for future studies.

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 06.10.2023

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© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press.

PubMed 37486674