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Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 1871-5206
ISSN (Online): 1875-5992

Research Article

Elevated O-GlcNAcylation Promotes Malignant Phenotypes of Hypopharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma by Stabilizing Nrf2 through Regulation of the PI3K/Akt Pathway

Author(s): Wencheng Dai, Xiaoxia Jin, Bin Jiang, Weixian Chen, Zhenhua Ji, Xinjiang Xu, Mingming Tang, Kui Dai and Liang Han*

Volume 20, Issue 16, 2020

Page: [1933 - 1942] Pages: 10

DOI: 10.2174/1871520620666200615132435

Price: $65


Background and Purpose: O-GlcNAcylation is a significant protein posttranslational modification with O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) for intracellular signaling. Elevated O-GlcNAcylation contributes to cell proliferation, cell migration, cell apoptosis and signal transduction in various cancers. However, the expression level and functional role of O-GlcNAcylation in Hypopharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HSCC) is not clearly elucidated. Nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a master transcriptional factor that has been found to be aberrantly activated in HSCC. Here, we provide a molecular rationale between O-GlcNAcylation and Nrf2 in HSCC patients.

Methods: The protein levels of O-GlcNAcylation and Nrf2 in HSCC tissues were detected by immunohistochemistry technique and western blot analysis. Then, O‐GlcNAcylation knockdown HSCC cells were applied in this study. Cell proliferation was detected by CCK8, colony-forming analysis, and cell cycle assays. Cell migration and invasion ability was evaluated by transwell assays. Cell apoptosis was measured by TUNEL analysis.

Results: O-GlcNAcylation was obviously up-regulated in HSCC tissues, which correlated with tumor size and lymph node metastasis. In addition, the protein level of Nrf2 was found to positively correlate with the expression of O‐GlcNAcylation both in vivo and in vitro. Knockdown of O-GlcNAcylation significantly inhibited HSCC cell growth, suppressed cell migration, and promoted cell apoptosis, whereas overexpression of Nrf2 reversed these phenotypes. Mechanismly, the upregulation of O-GlcNAcylation promoted the phosphorylation of Akt, leading to the stabilization of Nrf2; this could be attenuated by inhibition of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.

Conclusion: Here, we provide a molecular association between O-GlcNAcylation and Nrf2 in HSCC patients, thus providing valuable therapeutic targets for the disease.

Keywords: O-GlcNAcylation, Nrf2, hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, Akt, tumor progression, cell proliferation.

Graphical Abstract
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