Concomitant elevations in serum sialytransferase activity and sialic acid content in rats with metastasizing mammary tumors

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  11 Feb 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4278, pp. 577-580
DOI: 10.1126/science.835014


Rats with transplantable spontaneously metastasizing mammary tumors have elevated levels of both serum sialoglycoconjugate and serum sialytransferase activity compared with normal female rats or rats with various nonmetastasizing mammary tumors. A direct relationship was observed between the amount of serum protein-bound sialic acid and serum sialyltransferase activity in all rats studied. Serum sialyltransferase activity in rats with a representative metastasizing mammary tumor, SMT-2A, was also correlated with tumor age. Microsomes prepared from the SMT-2A tumor have a sixfold higher sialyltransferase activity than do microsomes prepared from the nonmetastasizing mammary tumor MT-W9B. Normal rat liver microsomes have the same level of activity as microsomes prepared from livers of animals with either SMT-2A or MT-W9B tumors. The data indicate that spontaneously metastasizing mammary tumor cells have an increased production and release, perhaps through cell surface shedding, of a sialyltransferase. It is suggested that this sialyltransferase may increase the serum half-life of certain tumor-specific circulating glycoconjugates by increasing the content of protein-bound sialic acid and may thereby play a role in the immune escape mechanism of metastasizing tumor cells.