Sialylation of the Fas death receptor by St6Gal-I provides protection against Fas-mediated apoptosis in colon carcinoma cells

Academic Article


  • The glycosyltransferase, ST6Gal-I, adds sialic acid in an α2-6 linkage to theN-glycans of membrane and secreted glycoproteins. Up-regulation of ST6Gal-I occurs in many cancers, including colon carcinoma, and correlates with metastasis and poor prognosis. However, mechanisms by which ST6Gal-I facilitates tumor progression remain poorly understood due to limited knowledge of enzyme substrates. Herein we identify the death receptor, Fas (CD95), as an ST6Gal-I substrate, and show that α2-6 sialylation of Fas confers protection against Fas-mediated apoptosis. Intriguingly, differences in ST6Gal-I activity do not affect the function of DR4 or DR5 death receptors upon treatment with TRAIL, implicating a selective effect of ST6Gal-I on the Fas receptor. Using ST6Gal-I knockdown and forced overexpression colon carcinoma cell models, we find that α2-6 sialylation of Fas prevents apoptosis stimulated by FasL as well as the Fas-activating antibody, CH11, as evidenced by decreased activation of caspases 8 and 3. We also show that α2-6 sialylation of Fas does not alter the binding of CH11, but rather inhibits the capacity of Fas to induce apoptosis by blocking the association of FADD with Fas cytoplasmic tails, an event that initiates death-inducing signaling complex formation. Furthermore, α2-6 sialylation of Fas inhibits Fas internalization, which is required for apoptotic signaling. Although dysregulated Fas activity is a well known mechanism through which tumors evade apoptosis, the current study is the first to link Fas insensitivity to the actions of a specific sialyltransferase. This finding establishes a new paradigm by which death receptor function is impaired for the self-protection of tumors against apoptosis. © 2011 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Swindall AF; Bellis SL
  • Start Page

  • 22982
  • End Page

  • 22990
  • Volume

  • 286
  • Issue

  • 26