Aberrant protein glycosylation is one of the most notable features in cancerous tissues, and thereby glycoproteins with disease-relevant glycosylation alterations are fascinating targets for the development of biomarkers and therapeutic agents. For this purpose, a reliable strategy is needed for the analysis of glycosylation alterations occurring on specific glycoproteins during the progression of cancer. Here, we propose a bilateral approach combining lectin microarray-based tissue glycomic profiling and database-derived transcriptomic datasets. First, lectin microarray was used to perform differential glycomic profiling of crude extracts derived from non-tumor and tumor regions of frozen tissue sections from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). This analysis revealed two notable tissue glycome alterations in PDAC samples: increases in sialylated glycans and bisecting N-acetylglucosamine and a decrease in ABO blood group antigens. To examine aberrations in the glycosylation machinery related to these glycomic alterations, we next employed public datasets of gene expression profiles in cancerous and normal pancreases provided by The Cancer Genome Atlas and the Genotype-Tissue Expression projects, respectively. In this analysis, glycosyltransferases responsible for the glycosylation alterations showed aberrant gene expression in the cancerous tissues, consistent with the tissue glycomic profiles. The correlated alterations in glycosyltransferase expression and tissue glycomics were then evaluated by differential glycan profiling of a membrane N-glycoprotein, basigin, expressed in tumor and non-tumor pancreatic cells. The focused differential glycomic profiling for endogenous basigin derived from non-tumor and cancerous regions of PDAC tissue sections demonstrated that PDAC-relevant glycan alterations of basigin closely reflected the notable features in the disease-specific alterations in the tissue glycomes. In conclusion, the present multi-omics strategy using public transcriptomic datasets and experimental glycomic profiling using a tiny amount of clinical specimens successfully demonstrated that basigin is a representative N-glycoprotein that reflects PDAC-related aberrant glycosylations. This study indicates the usefulness of large public data sets such as the gene expression profiles of glycosylation-related genes for evaluation of the highly sensitive tissue glycomic profiling results. This strategy is expected to be useful for the discovery of novel glyco-biomarkers and glyco-therapeutic targets.
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