Sialyl Lewis x-P-selectin cascade mediates tumor-mesothelial adhesion in ascitic fluid shear flow

Nat Commun. 2019 Jun 3;10(1):2406. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10334-6.


Organ-specific colonization suggests that specific cell-cell recognition is essential. Yet, very little is known about this particular interaction. Moreover, tumor cell lodgement requires binding under shear stress, but not static, conditions. Here, we successfully isolate the metastatic populations of cancer stem/tumor-initiating cells (M-CSCs). We show that the M-CSCs tether more and roll slower than the non-metastatic (NM)-CSCs, thus resulting in the preferential binding to the peritoneal mesothelium under ascitic fluid shear stress. Mechanistically, this interaction is mediated by P-selectin expressed by the peritoneal mesothelium. Insulin-like growth factor receptor-1 carrying an uncommon non-sulfated sialyl-Lewisx (sLex) epitope serves as a distinct P-selectin binding determinant. Several glycosyltransferases, particularly α1,3-fucosyltransferase with rate-limiting activity for sLex synthesis, are highly expressed in M-CSCs. Tumor xenografts and clinical samples corroborate the relevance of these findings. These data advance our understanding on the molecular regulation of peritoneal metastasis and support the therapeutic potential of targeting the sLex-P-selectin cascade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascitic Fluid*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / secondary*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • P-Selectin / metabolism*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Peritoneum / metabolism
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Oligosaccharides
  • P-Selectin
  • SELP protein, human
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • galactoside 3-fucosyltransferase
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1