The post-translational modification of proteins, including glycosylation, differs between normal and tumor cells. The UDP-N-acetyl-D-galactosamine polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferases (GalNAc-Tases) family of enzymes regulates the initial steps of mucin O-glycosylation and is responsible for the altered glycosylation state observed in cancer cells. Recently it was found that GalNAc-T14 mRNA is heterogeneously expressed in breast carcinomas compared to normal tissue, however the expression profile of GalNAc-T14 protein in breast carcinomas compared to normal tissue is still unknown. In this study, we assessed the expression profile of GalNAc-T14 protein in malignant and non-malignant breast tissues by immunohistochemistry to evaluate whether GalNAc-T14 might be a potential biomarker for breast cancer.
In formalin-fixed tissues, the expression level of GalNAc-T14 protein was evaluated by immunohistochemistry assay in breast tissues. Expression profiles were assessed in normal tissues, benign fibroadenomas and several types of carcinomas.
Our results showed that GalNAc-T14 was heterogeneously expressed in breast carcinomas compared to non-malignant tissue. GalNAc-T14 expression was observed in 47/56 (83.9%) carcinoma samples, 7/48 (14.6%) non-malignant breast tissue samples. GalNAc-T14 expression level was associated with histological grade. For this enzyme a significant association with invasive ductal type, mucinous adenocarcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) type was found.
Our results provide evidence that GalNAc-T14 may be a potential biomarker for breast cancer by immunohistochemistry. GalNAc-T14 expression level was associated with histological grade. GalNAc-T14 expression can provide new insights about breast cancer glycobiology.