Background: Protein glycosylation is a common posttranslational modification and glycan structural changes have been observed in several malignancies including prostate cancer. We hypothesized that altered glycosylation could be related to differences in gene expression levels of glycoprotein synthetic enzymes between normal and malignant prostate tissues.
Methods: We interrogated prostate cancer gene expression data for reproducible changes in expression of glycoprotein synthetic enzymes. Over-expression of GCNT1 was validated in prostate samples using RT-PCR. ELISA was used to measure core 2 O-linked glycan sialyl Lewis X (sLe(x) ) of prostate specific antigen (PSA), Mucin1 (MUC1), and prostatic acidic phosphatase (PAP) proteins.
Results: A key glycosyltransferase, GCNT1, was consistently over-expressed in several prostate cancer gene expression datasets. RT-PCR confirmed increased transcript levels in cancer samples compared to normal prostate tissue in fresh-frozen prostate tissue samples. ELISA using PSA, PAP, and MUC1 capture antibodies and a specific core 2 O-linked sLe(x) detection antibody demonstrated elevation of this glycan structure in cancer compared to normal tissues for MUC1 (P = 0.01), PSA (P = 0.03) and near significant differences in PAP sLe(x) levels (P = 0.06). MUC1, PSA and PAP protein levels alone were not significantly different between paired normal and malignant prostate samples.
Conclusions: GCNT1 is over-expressed in prostate cancer and is associated with higher levels of core 2 O-sLe(x) in PSA, PAP and MUC1 proteins. Alterations of O-linked glycosylation could be important in prostate cancer biology and could provide a new avenue for development of prostate cancer specific glycoprotein biomarkers.
Keywords: GCNT1; O-glycosylation; prostate cancer; sialyl Lewis X.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.