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Glycosylation in ovarian carcinoma cells

Researchers characterize glycoproteins and glycans from exosomes

Oeiras, 16.12.2013

Cancer cells are characterized by changes in the sugar composition of cell surface glycoproteins, a promising feature for novel diagnostic targets. A recent work by researchers from the Laboratory of Glycobiology in collaboration with GlycoThera, Germany, and the Electron Microscopy Facility at IGC, characterized the glycoproteins and glycans present in exosomes (secreted membrane vesicles) from ovarian carcinoma cells. The work is published in PLOS One.

Exosomes are vehicles of cellular proteins to the outside of the cell. These membrane vesicles are secreted by various cell types, including tumor cells, and have been associated with the transmission of pathogenicity among cells, for example, in tumor progression. Because exosomes can be detected in biological fluids, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or urine, they are potential diagnostic targets for cancer. While some data exists for their protein and lipid compositions, very little was known on the sugar side.

In this work, researchers characterized the glycoprotein and glycan composition of exosomes from ovarian carcinoma cells. The different techniques used provided very detailed information on the glycosylation in these exosomes. More specifically, researchers identified a specific complex pattern of glycans (of which the most striking was the presence of bisecting N-acetylglucosamine), which can thus be regarded as a potential exosome marker for ovarian carcinoma cells. Furthermore, a very abundant sialoglycoprotein (galectin-3-binding protein) has been identified as a specific exosome marker.

The detailed description of glycoproteins and N-glycans in exosomes from ovarian carcinoma cells opens novel perspectives to explore exosomes and glycans as novel markers for ovarian cancer. In addition, this work contributes to a further understanding of exosome biology.

Original Article

PLOS One. 8(10): e78631. doi:10.1371

Sialoglycoproteins and N-glycans from secreted exosomes of ovarian carcinoma cells.

Escrevente C, Grammel N, Kandzia S, Zeiser J, Tranfield EM, Conradt HS, Costa J

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