Glycoconjugate Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 353–364

Molecular mechanism for cancer-associated induction of sialyl Lewis X and sialyl Lewis A expression—The Warburg effect revisited

  • Reiji Kannagi

DOI: 10.1023/B:GLYC.0000033631.35357.41

Cite this article as:
Kannagi, R. Glycoconj J (2003) 20: 353. doi:10.1023/B:GLYC.0000033631.35357.41


Cell adhesion mediated by selectins and their carbohydrate ligands, sialyl Lewis X and sialyl Lewis A, figures heavily in cancer metastasis. Expression of these carbohydrate determinants is markedly enhanced in cancer cells, but the molecular mechanism that leads to cancer-associated expression of sialyl Lewis X/A has not been well understood. Results of recent studies indicated involvement of two principal mechanisms in the accelerated expression of sialyl Lewis X/A in cancers; ‘incomplete synthesis’ and ‘neosynthesis.’ As to ‘incomplete synthesis,’ we have recently found further modified forms of sialyl Lewis X and sialyl Lewis A in non-malignant colonic epithelium, which have additional 6-sulfation or 2 → 6 sialylation. The impairment of GlcNAc 6-sulfation and 2 → 6 sialylation upon malignant transformation leads to accumulation of sialyl Lewis X/A in colon cancer cells. Epigenetic changes such as DNA methylation and/or histone deacetylation are suggested to lie behind such incomplete synthesis. As to the mechanism called ‘neosynthesis,’ recent studies have indicated that cancer-associated alterations in the sugar transportation and intermediate carbohydrate metabolism play important roles. Cancer cells are known to exhibit a metabolic shift from oxidative to elevated anaerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), which is correlated with the increased gene expression of sugar transporters and glycolytic enzymes induced by common cancer-specific genetic alterations. The increased sialyl Lewis X/A expression in cancer is a link in the chains of these events because our recent results indicated that these events accompany transcriptional induction of a set of genes closely related to its expression. Published in 2004.

selectin incomplete synthesis histone deacetylation neosynthesis Warburg effect hypoxia inducible factor 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reiji Kannagi
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular PathologyAichi Cancer CenterChikusaku, NagoyaJapan

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