J Biol Chem 2017 09 23;292(39):16351-16359. Epub 2017 Aug 23.
the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and
Glycosylation changes associated with cellular transformation can facilitate the growth and progression of tumors. Previously we discovered that the gene encoding the glycosyltransferase GnT-III is elevated in epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOCs) and leads to the production of abnormal truncated -linked glycan structures instead of the typical bisected forms. In this study, we are interested in discovering how these abnormal glycans impact the growth and progression of ovarian cancer. We have discovered using stable shRNA gene suppression that GnT-III expression controls the expansion of side-population cells, also known as cancer stem cells. More specifically, we found that GnT-III expression regulates the levels and activation of the heavily glycosylated Notch receptor involved in normal and malignant development. Suppression of GnT-III in EOC cell lines and primary tumor-derived cells resulted in an inhibition of Notch signaling that was more potent than pharmacologic blockage of Notch activation via γ-secretase inhibition. The inhibition resulted from the redirection of the Notch receptor to the lysosome, a novel mechanism. These findings demonstrate a new role for bisecting glycosylation in the control of Notch transport and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of inhibiting GnT-III as a treatment for controlling EOC growth and recurrence.