Targeting selectins and their ligands in cancer

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Aberrant glycosylation is a hallmark of cancer cells with increased evidence pointing to a role in tumor progression. In particular, aberrant sialylation of glycoproteins and glycolipids has been linked to increased immune cell evasion, drug evasion, drug resistance, tumor invasiveness, and vascular dissemination, leading to metastases. Hypersialylation of cancer cells is largely the result of overexpression of sialyltransferases (STs). Differentially, humans express twenty different STs in a tissue-specific manner, each of which catalyzes the attachment of sialic acids via different glycosidic linkages (α2-3, α2-6, or α2-8) to the underlying glycan chain. One important mechanism whereby overexpression of STs contributes to an enhanced metastatic phenotype is via the generation of selectin ligands. Selectin ligand function requires the expression of sialyl-Lewis X and its structural isomer sialyl-Lewis A, which are synthesized by the combined action of alpha α1-3-fucosyltransferases, α2-3-sialyltransferases, β1-4-galactosyltranferases, and N-acetyl-β-glucosaminyltransferases. The α2-3-sialyltransferases ST3Gal4 and ST3Gal6 are critical to the generation of functional E- and P-selectin ligands and overexpression of these STs have been linked to increased risk of metastatic disease in solid tumors and poor outcome in multiple myeloma. Thus, targeting selectins and their ligands as well as the enzymes involved in their generation, in particular STs, could be beneficial to many cancer patients. Potential strategies include ST inhibition and the use of selectin antagonists, such as glycomimetic drugs and antibodies. Here, we review ongoing efforts to optimize the potency and selectivity of ST inhibitors, including the potential for targeted delivery approaches, as well as evaluate the potential utility of selectin inhibitors, which are now in early clinical development.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution 4.0 International
  • Language
  • Citation for previous publication
    • Natoni, Alessandro, Macauley, Matthew S., & O’Dwyer, Michael E. (2016). Targeting selectins and their ligands in cancer. Frontiers in oncology, 6, [pp. 1-12].
  • Link to related item