Clinicopathological significance of core 3 O-glycan synthetic enzyme, β1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 6 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

PLoS One. 2020 Nov 30;15(11):e0242851. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242851. eCollection 2020.


Mucin-type O-glycans are involved in cancer initiation and progression, although details of their biological and clinicopathological roles remain unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinicopathological significance of β1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 6 (β3Gn-T6), an essential enzyme for the synthesis of core 3 O-glycan and several other O-glycans in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We performed immunohistochemical and lectin-histochemical analyses to detect the expression of β3Gn-T6 and several O-glycans in 156 cases of PDAC with pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs) and corresponding normal tissue samples. The T antigen, Tn antigen, sialyl Lewis X (sLeX) antigen, and sLeX on core 2 O-glycan were more highly expressed in PDAC cells than in normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells (NPDEs). Conversely, the expression of 6-sulfo N-acetyllactosamine on extended core 1 O-glycan was found in NPDEs and was low in PDAC cells. These glycan expression levels were not associated with patient outcomes. β3Gn-T6 was expressed in ~20% of PDAC cases and 30-40% of PanINs but not in NPDEs. Higher expression of β3Gn-T6 was found in PDAC cells in more differentiated adenocarcinoma cases showing significantly longer disease-free survival in both univariate and multivariate analyses. In addition, the expression of β3Gn-T6 in PDAC cells and PanINs significantly correlated with the expression of MUC5AC in these cells, suggesting that β3Gn-T6 expression is related to cellular differentiation status of the gastric foveolar phenotype. Thus, it is likely that β3Gn-T6 expression in PDAC cells is a favorable prognostic factor in PDAC patients, and that the expression of β3Gn-T6 correlates with the gastric foveolar phenotype in pancreatic carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / genetics
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / immunology
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / genetics
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / genetics*
  • Polysaccharides / genetics*
  • Polysaccharides / immunology
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen / genetics
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen / immunology


  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor
  • Polysaccharides
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Tn antigen
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (NH) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (NH).