Transfection of the mouse Fut1 and Fut2, and human FUT1 genes into human ovarian carcinoma-derived RMG-1 cells resulted in 20-30-fold increases in cellular α1,2-fucosyltransferase activity, and in alteration of the glycolipid composition, including not only fucosylated products, but also precursor glycolipids. Although globo-series glycolipids were not significantly affected by the transfection, the major glycolipids belonging to the lacto-series type 1 chain family in RMG-1 cells and the transfectants were the Lc4Cer, Lewis a (Le)a and Leb, and H-1 glycolipids, respectively, suggesting that fucosylation of Lc4Cer to the H-1 glycolipid prevents the further modification of Lc4Cer to Lea and Leb in the transfectants. Also, the lacto-series type 2 chains in RMG-1 cells were LeX, NeuAc-nLC4Cer and NeuAc-LeX, and those in the transfectants were LeX and LeY, indicating that the sialylation of nLc4Cer and LeX is restricted by increased fucosylation of LeX. As a result, the amount of sialic acid released by sialidase from the transfectants decreased to 70% of that from RMG-1 cells, and several membrane-mediated phenomena, such as the cell-to-cell interaction between cancer cells and mesothelial cells, and the cell viability in the presence of an anticancer drug, 5-fluorouracil, for the transfectants was found to be increased in comparison to that for RMG-1 cells. These findings indicate that cell surface carbohydrates are involved in the biological properties, including cell-to-cell adhesion and drug resistance, of cancer cells.
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