The potential role of protein O-GlcNAcylation in cancer has been studied extensively, and the spread of cancer cells to regional lymph nodes is the first step in the dissemination of breast cancer. However, the correlation between O-GlcNAcylation and lymphatic metastasis in breast cancer remains elusive. In this study, we demonstrated that the overall O-GlcNAcylation as well as O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) tends to decrease in response to the augmentation of lymph node metastasis (LNM) in invasive ductal breast carcinomas (IDCs). Although accumulating evidence indicates that individual O-GlcNAcylation may be important in the pathogenesis of breast cancer, O-GlcNAcylated proteins in IDCs are still largely unexplored. Herein, O-GlcNAcylated proteins of IDCs were chemo-enzymatically enriched and identified via liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry. In total, 155 O-GlcNAcylated proteins were determined, of which 41 were only observed in LNM tissues, while 40 were unique in non-LNM samples. Gene ontology analysis showed that O-GlcNAc is primarily a nucleocytoplasmic post-translational modification, and most enriched functional terms were related to cancer development in both metastatic and non-metastatic IDCs. Moreover, several O-GlcNAcylated proteins involved in glycolysis and its accessory pathway were identified from LNM and non-LNM groups, respectively. These results indicate that the O-GlcNAcylation statuses of individual proteins were independent of the overall O-GlcNAcylation levels of metastatic and non-metastatic IDCs. Aberrant O-GlcNAc modification of these proteins might be associated with LNM progression.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Glycolysis; Invasive ductal carcinoma; Lymph node; Metastasis; O-GlcNAc.