The role of N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III and V in the post-transcriptional modifications of E-cadherin

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It has long been recognized that E-cadherin dysfunction is a major cause of epithelial cell invasion. However, very little is known about the post-transcriptional modifications of E-cadherin and its role in E-cadherin mediated tumor progression. N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III (GnT-III) catalyzes the formation of a bisecting GlcNAc structure in N-glycans, and has been pointed as a metastasis suppressor. N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase V (GnT-V) catalyzes the addition of β1,6 GlcNAc branching of N-glycans, and has been associated to increase metastasis. The regulatory mechanism between E-cadherin expression and the remodeling of its oligosaccharides structures by GnT-III and GnT-V were explored in this study. We have demonstrated that wild-type E-cadherin regulates MGAT3 gene transcription resulting in increased GnT-III expression. We also showed that GnT-III and GnT-V competitively modified E-cadherin N-glycans. The GnT-III knockdown cells revealed a membrane de-localization of E-cadherin leading to its cytoplasmic accumulation. Further, the GnT-III knockdown cells also caused modifications of E-cadherin N-glycans catalyzed by GnT-III and GnT-V. Altogether our results have clarified the existence of a bidirectional crosstalk between E-cadherin and GnT-III/GnT-V that was, for the first time, reproduced in an in vivo model. This study opens new insights into the post-transcriptional modifications of E-cadherin in its biological function, in a tumor context.

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