Abstract

N-Acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2 (GALNT2), the enzyme that regulates the initial step of mucin O-glycosylation, has been reported to play a role in influencing the malignancy of various cancers. However, the mechanism through which it influences gliomas is still unknown. In the current study, the Cox proportional hazards model was used to select genes. Data obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database and immunohistochemistry (IHC) of clinical specimens showed that increased GALNT2 expression levels were associated with an unfavorable prognosis and a higher tumor grade in human gliomas. Then, GALNT2 knockdown and overexpression were performed in glioma cell lines and verified by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blotting. Functional assays demonstrated that GALNT2 was closely related to glioma cell proliferation, cycle transition, migration and invasion. Western blot analysis and lectin pull-down assays indicated that GALNT2 knockdown decreased the level of phosphorylated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the expression of the Tn antigen on EGFR and affected the expression levels of p21, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4), cyclinD1, matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) through the EGFR/PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. GALNT2 overexpression had the opposite effects. In vivo, the growth of orthotopic glioma xenografts in nude mice was distinctly inhibited by the expression of GALNT2 shRNA, and the tumors with GALNT2 shRNA exhibited less aggressiveness and reduced expression of Ki67 and MMP2. Overall, GALNT2 facilitates the malignant characteristics of glioma by influencing the O-glycosylation and phosphorylation of EGFR and the subsequent downstream PI3K/Akt/mTOR axis. Therefore, GALNT2 may serve as a novel biomarker and a potential target for future therapy of glioma.

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