Insights into the role of sialylation in cancer progression and metastasis
2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Cancer Research UK. Upregulation of sialyltransferases-the enzymes responsible for the addition of sialic acid to growing glycoconjugate chains-and the resultant hypersialylation of up to 40-60% of tumour cell surfaces are established hallmarks of several cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Hypersialylation promotes tumour metastasis by several routes, including enhancing immune evasion and tumour cell survival, and stimulating tumour invasion and migration. The critical role of enzymes that regulate sialic acid in tumour cell growth and metastasis points towards targeting sialylation as a potential new anti-metastatic cancer treatment strategy. Herein, we explore insights into the mechanisms by which hypersialylation plays a role in promoting metastasis, and explore the current state of sialyltransferase inhibitor development.