Background: Previously, we found that β-galactoside α2,6-sialyltransferase (ST6Gal I), an enzyme that adds sialic acids to N-linked oligosaccharides of glycoproteins and is frequently overexpressed in cancer cells, is up-regulated by ionizing radiation (IR) and cleaved to a form possessing catalytic activity comparable to that of the Golgi-localized enzyme. Moreover, this soluble form is secreted into the culture media. Induction of ST6Gal I significantly increased the migration of colon cancer cells via sialylation of integrin β1. Here, we further investigated the mechanisms underlying ST6Gal I cleavage, solubilization and release from cells, and addressed its functions, focusing primarily on cancer cell migration.Methods: We performed immunoblotting and lectin affinity assay to analyze the expression of ST6 Gal I and level of sialylated integrin β1. After ionizing radiation, migration of cells was measured by in vitro migration assay. α2, 6 sialylation level of cell surface was analyzed by flow cytometry. Cell culture media were concentrated and then analyzed for soluble ST6Gal I levels using an α2, 6 sialyltransferase sandwich ELISA.Result: We found that ST6Gal I was cleaved by BACE1 (β-site amyloid precursor protein-cleaving enzyme), which was specifically overexpressed in response to IR. The soluble form of ST6Gal I, which also has sialyltransferase enzymatic activity, was cleaved from the Golgi membrane and then released into the culture media. Both non-cleaved and cleaved forms of ST6Gal I significantly increased colon cancer cell migration in a sialylation-dependent manner. The pro-migratory effect of the non-cleaved form of ST6Gal I was dependent on integrin β1 sialylation, whereas that of the cleaved form of ST6Gal I was not, suggesting that other intracellular sialylated molecules apart from cell surface molecules such as integrin β1 might be involved in mediating the pro-migratory effects of the soluble form of ST6Gal I. Moreover, production of soluble form ST6Gal I by BACE 1 inhibited integrin β1 sialylation and migration by Golgi-anchored form of ST6Gal I.Conclusions: Our results suggest that soluble ST6Gal I, possibly in cooperation with the Golgi-bound form, may participate in cancer progression and metastasis prior to being secreted from cancer cells.
- ST6Gal i