Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer type worldwide. It is characterized by a high expression of aberrantly glycosylated ligands, such as the Tn antigen (GalNAcα1-Ser/Thr), which is a major ligand for the C-type lectin macrophage galactose-type lectin (MGL). We have previously determined that a high level of MGL ligands in colorectal tumors is associated with lower disease-free survival in patients with late stage disease, which we could attribute to the presence of oncogenic BRAFV600E mutations. Here we aimed to elucidate the downstream pathway of BRAFV600E governing high MGL ligand and Tn antigen expression. We focused on glycosylation-related enzymes involved in the synthesis or elongation of Tn antigen, N-acetylgalactosamine-transferases (GALNTs) and C1GalT1/COSMC, respectively. Both the activity and expression of C1GalT1 and COSMC were unrelated to the BRAF mutational status. In contrast, GALNT3, GALNT7 and GALNT12 were increased in colorectal cancer cells harboring the BRAFV600E mutation. Through CRISPR-Cas9 gene knockouts we could establish that GALNT3 increased MGL ligand synthesis in the HT29 cell line, while GALNT7 and GALNT12 appeared to have redundant roles. Together our results highlight a novel mechanistic pathway connecting BRAFV600E to aberrant glycosylation in colorectal cancer through GALNT3.
Sahasrabudhe, N. M., Lenos, K., van der Horst, J. C., Rodríguez, E., & van Vliet, S. J. (2018). Oncogenic BRAFV600E drives expression of MGL ligands in the colorectal cancer cell line HT29 through N-acetylgalactosamine-transferase 3. Biological Chemistry, 399(7), 649-659. https://doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2018-0120