Albert Einstein Cancer Center

The bisecting GlcNAc on N-glycans inhibits growth factor signaling and retards mammary tumor progression

The branching of complex N-glycans attached to growth factor receptors promotes tumor progression by prolonging growth factor signaling. The addition of the bisecting GlcNAc to complex N-glycans by Mgat3 has varying effects on cell adhesion, cell migration, and hepatoma formation. Here, we show that Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing Mgat3 and the polyoma middle T (PyMT) antigen have reduced cell proliferation and growth factor signaling dependent on a galectin lattice. The Mgat3 gene is not expressed in virgin mammary gland but is upregulated during lactation and is expressed in mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)/PyMT tumors. Mice lacking Mgat3 that cannot transfer the bisecting GlcNAc to N-glycans acquire PyMT-induced mammary tumors more rapidly and have an increased tumor burden, increased migration of tumor cells, and increased early metastasis to lung. Tumors and tumor-derived cells lacking Mgat3 exhibit enhanced signaling through the Ras pathway and reduced amounts of functionally glycosylated alpha-dystroglycan. Constitutive overexpression of an MMTV/Mgat3 transgene inhibits early mammary tumor development and tumor cell migration. Thus, the addition of the bisecting GlcNAc to complex N-glycans of mammary tumor cell glycoprotein receptors is a cell autonomous mechanism serving to retard tumor progression by reducing growth factor signaling. 

 
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