Insights into the role of sulfated glycans in cancer cell adhesion and migration through use of branched peptide probe

The tetra-branched peptide NT4 selectively binds to different human cancer cells and tissues. NT4 specifically binds to sulfated glycosaminoglycans on cancer cell membranes. Since sulfated glycosaminoglycans are involved in cancer cell interaction with the extracellular matrix, we evaluated the effect of NT4 on cancer cell adhesion and migration. We demonstrated here that the branched peptide NT4 binds sulfated glycosaminoglycans with high affinity and with preferential binding to heparan sulfate. NT4 inhibits cancer cell adhesion and migration on different proteins, without modifying cancer cell morphology or their ability to produce protrusions, but dramatically affecting the directionality and polarity of cell movement. Results obtained by taking advantage of the selective targeting of glycosaminoglycans chains by NT4, provide insights into the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans in cancer cell adhesion and migration and suggest a determinant role of sulfated glycosaminoglycans in the control of cancer cell directional migration.
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