Altered expression of different GalNAc‑transferases is associated with disease progression and poor prognosis in women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Int J Oncol. 2017 Dec;51(6):1887-1897. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2017.4147. Epub 2017 Oct 9.


Protein glycosylation perturbations are implicated in a variety of diseases, including cancer. Aberrant glycosylation in cancer is frequently attributed to altered expression of polypeptide GalNAc transferases (GalNAc‑Ts) - enzymes initiating mucin-type O-glycosylation. A previous study from our group demonstrated that one member of this family (GALNT3) is overexpressed in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), and GALNT3 expression correlated with shorter progression-free survival (PFS) in EOC patients with advanced disease. As considerable degree of redundancy between members of the GalNAc‑Ts gene family has been frequently observed, we decided to investigate whether other members of this family are essential in EOC progression. In silico analysis based on publically available data was indicative for altered expression of five GalNAc‑Ts (GALNT2, T4, T6, T9 and T14) in ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) samples compared to non-tumoral (control) ovarian tissue. We analyzed protein expression of these GalNAc‑Ts in EOC cells and tumors by western blotting, followed by immunohistochemical (IHC) evaluation of their expression in EOC tumor and control samples using tissue microarrays (TMAs). Western blot analyses were indicative for low expression of GALNT2 and strong expression of GALNT6, T9 and T14 in both EOC cells and tumors. These observations were confirmed by IHC. GALNT2 displayed significantly lower expression, while GALNT6, GALNT9 and GALNT14 showed significantly higher expression in HGSC tumors compared to control tissue. Importantly, GALNT6 and GALNT14 expression correlated with poor prognosis of serous EOC patients. Moreover, our results suggest for overlapping functions of some GalNAc‑Ts, more specifically GALNT3 and GALNT6, in directing EOC progression. Our results are indicative for a possible implication of different members of the GalNAc‑T gene family in modulating EOC progression, and the potential use of GALNT6 and GALNT14 as novel prognostic EOC biomarkers. These data warrant future studies on the role of members of the GalNAc‑Ts gene family in ovarian tumorigenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / enzymology*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • N-Acetylgalactosaminyltransferases / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Tissue Array Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • N-Acetylgalactosaminyltransferases