Aberrant protein glycosylation could be a distinct surface-marker of cancer cells that influences cancer progression and metastasis because glycosylation can regulate membrane protein folding which alters receptor activation and changes epitope exposure for antibody (Ab) recognition. Carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM6), a glycophosphoinositol-anchored protein, is a heavily glycosylated tumor antigen. However, the clinical significance and biological effect of CEACAM6 glycosylation has not been addressed in cancers. We recently developed an anti-CEACAM6 Ab (TMU) from an immune llama library which can be engineered to a single-domain (sd)Ab or a heavy-chain (HC)Ab. The TMU HCAb specifically recognized glycosylated CEACAM6 compared to the conventional antibodies. Using the TMU HCAb, we found that glycosylated CEACAM6 was a tumor marker associated with recurrence in early-stage OSCC (oral squamous cell carcinoma) patients. CEACAM6 promoted OSCC cell invasion, migration, cytoskeletal rearrangement, and metastasis via interaction with epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) and enhancing EGFR activation, clustering and intracellular signaling cascades. These functions were modulated by N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 5 (MGAT5) which mediated N-glycosylation at Asn 256 (N256) of CEACAM6. Finally, the TMU sdAb and HCAb treatment inhibited the migration, invasion and EGF-induced signaling in CEACAM6-overexpressing cells. In conclusion, the complex N-glycosylation of CEACAM6 is critical for EGFR signaling of OSCC invasion and metastasis. Targeting glycosylated CEACAM6 with the TMU sdAb or TMU HCAb could be a feasible therapy for OSCC.
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