Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 81–101 | Cite as

Glycosidases in cancer and invasion

  • Ralph J. Bernacki
  • Michael J. Niedbala
  • Walter Korytnyk


Glycosidases have been demonstrated to be elevated in the interstitial fluid of tumors, sera of animals and patients with tumors, and in some tumor tissue as compared to normal adjacent tissue. Elevations of serum β-N-acetylglucosaminidase and β-glucuronidase most commonly have been found to occur and these enzymes have been shown to be secreted into the extracellular medium by many different tumor cell types in vitro. The mechanism of cellular release of these hydrolytic enzymes probably involves tumor lysosomal exocytosis. Increased tumor glycosidase levels may promote increased tumor cell shedding from primary tumors, local invasion and perhaps be responsible directly, or indirectly for structural changes in tumor cell surface glycoconjugates. These cell surface changes could facilitate tumor cell thrombus formation, secondary site implantation and attachment in the microcirculation to endothelial cells and/or subendothelial basement membrane components.

Other studies have demonstrated a correlation between metastatic cell potential and increased endoglycosidase and polysaccharide lyase activity. Generally, metastatic tumor cell variants have been found to be more invasive and capable of degrading proteoglycan basement membrane components, in part due to these increased levels of degradative enzymes. Hence, it is of considerable interest to develop inhibitors against these enzymes. Initial studies with glucuronidase inhibitors in the therapy of bladder tumors have been promising and with the advent of better agents and the use of appropriate in vitro metastatic models it may be possible to design and develop agents which interfere in various metastatic events and limit tumor progression.


glycosidases tumor basement membrane lysosomal hydrolases metastasis invasion glycosidase inhibitors 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph J. Bernacki
    • 1
  • Michael J. Niedbala
    • 1
  • Walter Korytnyk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Grace Cancer Drug CenterRoswell Park Memorial InstituteBuffaloUSA

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