The glycosyltransferase GnT-III activates Notch signaling and drives stem cell expansion to promote the growth and invasion of ovarian cancer.

Author(s): Allam H,  Johnson BP,  Zhang M,  Lu Z,  Cannon MJ,  Abbott KL

Journal: J Biol Chem

Date: 2017 Sep 29

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): GLYCO

PubMed ID: 28842505

PMC ID: PMC5625063

Abstract: Glycosylation changes associated with cellular transformation can facilitate the growth and progression of tumors. Previously we discovered that the gene Mgat3 encoding the glycosyltransferase GnT-III is elevated in epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOCs) and leads to the production of abnormal truncated N-linked glycan structures instead of the typical bisected forms. In this study, we are interested in discovering how these abnormal glycans impact the growth and progression of ovarian cancer. We have discovered using stable shRNA gene suppression that GnT-III expression controls the expansion of side-population cells, also known as cancer stem cells. More specifically, we found that GnT-III expression regulates the levels and activation of the heavily glycosylated Notch receptor involved in normal and malignant development. Suppression of GnT-III in EOC cell lines and primary tumor-derived cells resulted in an inhibition of Notch signaling that was more potent than pharmacologic blockage of Notch activation via γ-secretase inhibition. The inhibition resulted from the redirection of the Notch receptor to the lysosome, a novel mechanism. These findings demonstrate a new role for bisecting glycosylation in the control of Notch transport and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of inhibiting GnT-III as a treatment for controlling EOC growth and recurrence.