Impact of Fucosylation on Self-Assembly of Prostate and Breast Tumor Spheroids by Using Cyclo-RGDfK(TPP) Peptide and Image Object Detection

Onco Targets Ther. 2019 Dec 17;12:11153-11173. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S235811. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Core fucosylation of N-glycans on the integrin β1 subunit is essential for the functional activity of the integrin. The binding of α5β1 integrin with the tripeptide Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) motif within the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin may be influenced by the α-1,6-fucose core or α-1,2-fucose and α-1,3/4-fucose peripheral N-glycan profiles. Here, we investigated whether fucosylation impacts the formation of matrix-free 3D multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS) from human triple negative breast MDA-MB231 cell line, prostate PC3 and DU145 cell lines and DU145 gemcitabine resistant (GemR) variant by using the cyclic Arg-Gly-Asp-D-Phe-Lys peptide modified with 4-carboxybutyl-triphenylphosphonium bromide (cyclo-RGDfK(TPP)) peptide method.

Methods: Microscopic imaging, lectin histochemistry, flow cytometry, WST-1 cell viability assay and You Only Look Once version 2 (YOLOv2) training object detection using cyclic learning rates were used to evaluate the formation of MCTS, morphologic changes, and the expression levels of α-1,6-fucose and α-1,2-fucose linkages on the cell surface.

Results: DU145 prostate cancer cells expressed higher α-1,6-fucose than α-1,2-fucose linkages on their cell surface, as determined by lectin cytochemistry and flow cytometry. Blockage of the α-1,6- and α-1,2-fucose linkages with Aspergillus oryzae lectin (AOL) and Ulex Europaeus agglutinin I (UEA I) one hour before the addition of cyclic-RGDfK(TPP) peptide to the monolayer of the cancer cells resulted in a statistically significant dose-dependent reduction in spheroid volumes using threshold diameters of 40 and 60 µm. Application of a 40 µm threshold diameter measurements of spheroids resulted in fewer false-positive ones compared to the 60 µm diameter threshold previously used in our studies. A state-of-the-art, image object detection system YOLOv2 was used to automate the analysis of spheroid measurements and volumes. The results showed that YOLOv2 corroborated manual spheroid detection and volume measurements with high precision and accuracy.

Conclusion: For the first time, the findings demonstrate that α-1,6- and α-1,2-fucose linkages of N-glycans on the cell surface receptors facilitate cyclo-RGDfK(TPP)-mediated self-assembly of cancer cells to form 3D multicellular tumor spheroids.

Keywords: DU145; DU145 GemR; MCTS; PC3 and MDA-MB231 cell lines; cadherin; fucosylation; integrin; multicellular tumor spheroids; prostaspheres; spheroid.