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Scientific Reports


Glycosylation alterations of cell surface proteins are often observed during the progression of malignancies. The specific cell surface N-glycans were profiled in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with clinical tissues (88 tumor and adjacent normal tissues) and the corresponding serum samples of HCC patients. The level of core-α-1,6-fucosylated triantennary glycan (NA3Fb) increased both on the cell surface and in the serum samples of HCC patients (p < 0.01). Additionally, the change of NA3Fb was not influenced by Hepatitis B virus (HBV)and cirrhosis. Furthermore, the mRNA and protein expression of N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase IVa (GnT-IVa), which was related to the synthesis of the NA3Fb, was substantially increased in HCC tissues. Knockdown of GnT-IVa leads to a decreased level of NA3Fb and decreased ability of invasion and migration in HCC cells. NA3Fb can be regarded as a specific cell surface N-glycan of HCC. The high expression of GnT-IVa is the cause of the abnormal increase of NA3Fb on the HCC cell surface, which regulates cell migration. This study demonstrated the specific N-glycans of the cell surface and the mechanisms of altered glycoform related with HCC. These findings lead to better understanding of the function of glycan and glycosyltransferase in the tumorigenesis, progression and metastasis of HCC.


This work was partially supported by grants from The National Natural Science Foundation of China (81171945 and 31328006).

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.




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