Sialyltransferase inhibition leads to inhibition of tumor cell interactions with E-selectin, VCAM1, and MADCAM1, and improves survival in a human multiple myeloma mouse model

Haematologica. 2020 Jan 31;105(2):457-467. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2018.212266. Print 2020.


Aberrant glycosylation resulting from altered expression of sialyltransferases, such as ST3 β-galactoside α2-3-sialyltransferase 6, plays an important role in disease progression in multiple myeloma (MM). Hypersialylation can lead to increased immune evasion, drug resistance, tumor invasiveness, and disseminated disease. In this study, we explore the in vitro and in vivo effects of global sialyltransferase inhibition on myeloma cells using the pan-sialyltransferase inhibitor 3Fax-Neu5Ac delivered as a per-acetylated methyl ester pro-drug. Specifically, we show in vivo that 3Fax-Neu5Ac improves survival by enhancing bortezomib sensitivity in an aggressive mouse model of MM. However, 3Fax-Neu5Ac treatment of MM cells in vitro did not reverse bortezomib resistance conferred by bone marrow (BM) stromal cells. Instead, 3Fax-Neu5Ac significantly reduced interactions of myeloma cells with E-selectin, MADCAM1 and VCAM1, suggesting that reduced sialylation impairs extravasation and retention of myeloma cells in the BM. Finally, we showed that 3Fax-Neu5Ac alters the post-translational modification of the α4 integrin, which may explain the reduced affinity of α4β1/α4β7 integrins for their counter-receptors. We propose that inhibiting sialylation may represent a valuable strategy to restrict myeloma cells from entering the protective BM microenvironment, a niche in which they are normally protected from chemotherapeutic agents such as bortezomib. Thus, our work demonstrates that targeting sialylation to increase the ratio of circulating to BM-resident MM cells represents a new avenue that could increase the efficacy of other anti-myeloma therapies and holds great promise for future clinical applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bortezomib
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cell Communication
  • E-Selectin / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mucoproteins
  • Multiple Myeloma* / drug therapy
  • Sialyltransferases / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • E-Selectin
  • MADCAM1 protein, human
  • Mucoproteins
  • Bortezomib
  • Sialyltransferases