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Fucosylated Antigens in Cancer: An Alliance toward Tumor Progression, Metastasis, and Resistance to Chemotherapy

Athanasios Blanas, Neha M. Sahasrabudhe, Ernesto Rodríguez, Yvette van Kooyk, Sandra J. van Vliet

Frontiers in Oncology 8:39 2018

Aberrant glycosylation of tumor cells is recognized as a universal hallmark of cancer pathogenesis. Overexpression of fucosylated epitopes, such as type I (H1, Lewisa, Lewisb, and sialyl Lewisa) and type II (H2, Lewisx, Lewisy, and sialyl Lewisx) Lewis antigens, frequently occurs on the cancer cell surface and is mainly attributed to upregulated expression of pertinent fucosyltransferases (FUTs). Nevertheless, the impact of fucose-containing
moieties on tumor cell biology is not fully elucidated yet. Here, we review the relevance of tumor-overexpressed FUTs and their respective synthesized Lewis determinants in critical aspects associated with cancer progression, such as increased cell survival and proliferation, tissue invasion and metastasis, epithelial to mesenchymal transition,
endothelial and immune cell interaction, angiogenesis, multidrug resistance, and cancer stemness. Furthermore, we discuss the potential use of enhanced levels of fucosylation as glycan biomarkers for early prognosis, diagnosis, and disease monitoring in cancer patients.