LacdiNAcylation of N-glycans in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells results in changes in morphological appearance and adhesive properties of the cells

  • Kiyoko HiranoEmail author
  • Yoshio Takada
  • Kiyoshi Furukawa
Original Paper


We demonstrated previously that the expression of the disaccharide, GalNAcβ1 → 4GlcNAc (LacdiNAc), on N-glycans of cell surface glycoproteins in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells suppresses their malignant properties such as tumor formation in nude mice. Here, we report changes in the morphological appearance and adhesive properties of two kinds of clonal cells of MDA-MB-231 cells overexpressing β4-N-acetyl-galactosaminyltransferase 4. The clonal cells exhibited a cobble stone-like shape as compared to a spindle-like shape of the mock-transfected cells and the original MDA-MB-231 cells. This was associated with an increased expression of cell surface E-cadherin, a marker of epithelial cells, and a decreased expression of N-cadherin, vimentin, α-smooth muscle actin and ZEB1, markers of mesenchymal cells. In addition, the clonal cells showed a lower migratory activity compared to the mock-transfected cells by wound-healing assay. These results suggest that mesenchymal–epithelial transition may be occurring in these clonal cells. Furthermore, increased adhesion to extracellular matrix proteins such as fibronectin, collagen type I, collagen type IV, and laminin was observed. The clonal cells spread and enlarged, whereas the mock-transfected cells demonstrated poor spreading on laminin-coated plates in the absence of fetal calf serum, indicating that expression of LacdiNAc on cell surface glycoproteins results in changes in cell adhesive and spreading properties particularly to laminin.


LacdiNAc Human breast cancer cells Mesenchymal–epithelial transition Extracellular matrices Adhesiveness and spreading 



We are grateful to Dr. Tomoya Isaji and Dr. Jianquo Gu at Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan, for their generous gift of anti-β1-integrin antibody.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of GlycobiologyThe Noguchi InstituteTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Glycobiology, Department of BioengineeringNagaoka University of TechnologyNagaokaJapan

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