Dr. Chen, Joanne Jeou-Yuan 's publons link picture

Dr. Chen, Joanne Jeou-Yuan

Emeritus Research Fellow

  • Cancer Genomics
  • Molecular Oncology
  • Tumor Biology

Education and Positions:
  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Minnesota

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Proteoglycan serglycin promotes non-small cell lung cancer cell migration through the interaction of its glycosaminoglycans with CD44

Dr. Chen, Joanne Jeou-Yuan
Journal of Biomedical Science, Jan 02, 2020


Serglycin (SRGN), previously recognized as an intracellular proteoglycan involved in the storage processes of secretory granules, has recently been shown to be upregulated in several solid tumors. We have previously shown that SRGN in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) promotes malignant phenotypes in a CD44-dependent manner and increased expression of SRGN predicts poor prognosis of primary lung adenocarcinomas. However, the underlying mechanism remains to be defined.


Overexpression, knockdown and knockout approaches were performed to assess the role of SRGN in cell motility using wound healing and Boyden chamber migration assays. SRGN devoid of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) modification was produced by site-directed mutagenesis or chondroitinase treatment. Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry was applied for quantitative analysis of the disaccharide compositions and sulfation extent of SRGN GAGs. Western blot and co-immunoprecipitation analyses were performed to determine the expression and interaction of proteins of interest. Actin cytoskeleton organization was monitored by immunofluorescence staining.


SRGN expressed by NSCLC cells is readily secreted to the extracellular matrix in a heavily glycosylated form attached with mainly chondroitin sulfate (CS)-GAG chains, and to a lesser extent with heparin sulfate (HS). The CS-GAG moiety serves as the structural motif for SRGN binding to tumor cell surface CD44 and promotes cell migration. SRGN devoid of CS-GAG modification fails to interact with CD44 and has lost the ability to promote cell migration. SRGN/CD44 interaction promotes focal adhesion turnover via Src-mediated paxillin phosphorylation and disassembly of paxillin/FAK adhesion complex, facilitating cell migration. In support, depletion of Src activity or removal of CS-GAGs efficiently blocks SRGN-mediated Src activation and cell migration. SRGN also promotes cell migration via inducing cytoskeleton reorganization mediated through RAC1 and CDC42 activation accompanied with increased lamellipodia and filopodia formation.


Proteoglycan SRGN promotes NSCLC cell migration via the binding of its GAG motif to CD44. SRGN/CD44 interaction induces Rho-family GTPase-mediated cytoskeleton reorganization and facilitates Src-mediated focal adhesion turnover, leading to increased cell migration. These findings suggest that targeting specific glycans in tumor microenvironment that serve as ligands for oncogenic pathways may be a potential strategy for cancer therapy.