Despite sulfated O-linked glycans being abundant on ovarian cancer (OC) glycoproteins, their regulation during cancer development and involvement in cancer pathogenesis remain unexplored. We characterized O-glycans carrying sulfation on galactose residues and compared their expression with defined sulfotransferases regulated during OC development. Desialylated sulfated oligosaccharides were released from acidic glycoproteins in the cyst fluid from one patient with a benign serous cyst and one patient with serous OC. Oligosaccharides characterized by LC-MSn were identified as core 1 and core 2 O-glycans up to the size of decamers and with 1 to 4 sulfates linked to GlcNAc residues and to C-3 and/or C-6 of Gal. To study the specificity of the potential ovarian sulfotransferases involved, Gal3ST2 (Gal-3S)-, Gal3ST4 (Gal-3S)-, and CHST1 (Gal-6S)-encoding expression plasmids were transfected individually into CHO cells also expressing the P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1/mouse immunoglobulin G2b (PSGL-1/mIg G2b) fusion protein and the human core 2 transferase (GCNT1). Characterization of the PSGL-1/mIg G2b O-glycans showed that Gal3ST2 preferentially sulfated Gal on the C-6 branch of core 2 structures and Gal3ST4 preferred Gal on the C-3 branch independently if core-1 or -2. CHST1 sulfated Gal residues on both the C-3 (core 1/2) and C-6 branches of core 2 structures. Using serous ovarian tissue micro array, Gal3ST2 was found to be decreased in tissue classified as malignant compared with tissues classified as benign or borderline, with the lowest expression in poorly differentiated malignant tissue. Neither Gal3ST4 nor CHST1 was differentially expressed in benign, borderline, or malignant tissue, and there was no correlation between expression level and differentiation stage. The data displays a complex sulfation pattern of O-glycans on OC glycoproteins and that aggressiveness of the cancer is associated with a decreased expression of the Gal3ST2 transferase.
Keywords: LC-MS; biomarker; cyst fluid; glycomics; mucin; sulfotransferase.
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