Regulation of the metastatic cell phenotype by sialylated glycans


Tumor cells exhibit striking changes in cell surface glycosylation as a consequence of dysregulated glycosyltransferases and glycosidases. In particular, an increase in the expression of certain sialylated glycans is a prominent feature of many transformed cells. Altered sialylation has long been associated with metastatic cell behaviors including invasion and enhanced cell survival; however, there is limited information regarding the molecular details of how distinct sialylated structures or sialylated carrier proteins regulate cell signaling to control responses such as adhesion/migration or resistance to specific apoptotic pathways. The goal of this review is to highlight selected examples of sialylated glycans for which there is some knowledge of molecular mechanisms linking aberrant sialylation to critical processes involved in metastasis.

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The authors are grateful for support from NIH grant R01CA84248, American Heart Association grant 7710013, and a grant from the Department of Defense CDMRP program, OC100141. Mr. Schultz is an NSF Predoctoral Fellow, and Ms. Swindall is an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellow. Mr. Schultz and Ms. Swindall are members of the Howard Hughes Med-into-Grad predoctoral program.

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Correspondence to Susan L. Bellis.

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Schultz, M.J., Swindall, A.F. & Bellis, S.L. Regulation of the metastatic cell phenotype by sialylated glycans. Cancer Metastasis Rev 31, 501–518 (2012).

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  • Sialylation
  • Metastatic cell phenotype
  • Sialylated glycoproteins
  • Invasion