Differential O- and Glycosphingolipid Glycosylation in Human Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Cells With Opposite Morphology and Metastatic Behavior

Tao Zhang, Irma van Die, Boris Tefsen, Sandra J. van Vliet, Lisa C. Laan, Jing Zhang, Peter ten Dijke, Manfred Wuhrer*, Ana I. Belo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in the glycosylation profile of cancer cells have been strongly associated with cancer progression. To increase our insights into the role of glycosylation in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), we performed a study on O-glycans and glycosphingolipid (GSL) glycans of the PDAC cell lines Pa-Tu-8988T (PaTu-T) and Pa-Tu-8988S (PaTu-S). These cell lines are derived from the same patient, but show an almost opposite phenotype, morphology and capacity to metastasize, and may thus provide an attractive model to study the role of glycosylation in progression of PDAC. Gene-array analysis revealed that 24% of the glycosylation-related genes showed a ≥ 1.5-fold difference in expression level between the two cell lines. Subsequent validation of the data by porous graphitized carbon nano-liquid chromatography coupled to a tandem ion trap mass spectrometry and flow cytometry established major differences in O-glycans and GSL-glycans between the cell lines, including lower levels of T and sialylated Tn (sTn) antigens, neoexpression of globosides (Gb3 and Gb4), and higher levels of gangliosides in the mesenchymal-like PaTu-T cells compared to the epithelial-like PaTu-S. In addition, PaTu-S cells demonstrated a significantly higher binding of the immune-lectins macrophage galactose-type lectin and galectin-4 compared to PaTu-T. In summary, our data provide a comprehensive and differential glycan profile of two PDAC cell lines with disparate phenotypes and metastatic behavior. This will allow approaches to modulate and monitor the glycosylation of these PDAC cell lines, which opens up avenues to study the biology and metastatic behavior of PDAC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number732
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2020


  • O-glycosylation
  • gene array analysis
  • glycosphingolipid (GSL) glycans
  • glycosylation
  • glycosyltransferase
  • pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma


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