Cellular and Molecular Biology

Suppression of G6PD induces the expression and bisecting GlcNAc-branched N-glycosylation of E-Cadherin to block epithelial-mesenchymal transition and lymphatic metastasis



As the rate-limit enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) plays important roles in tumour progression, but the exact mechanism through which G6PD controls cancer metastasis remains unclear.


G6PD expression in resected oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) samples was analysed by immunohistochemistry. The effects and mechanism of G6PD suppression on OSCC cell lines were measured by transwell assay, wound healing assay, western and lectin blot, mass spectrometer analysis, ChIP-PCR, and luciferase reporter assay. BALB/c-nude mice were used to establish orthotopic xenograft model.


G6PD expression in the tumours of 105 OSCC patients was associated with lymphatic metastasis and prognosis. In vitro cellular study suggested that G6PD suppression impaired cell migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Furtherly, G6PD knockdown activated the JNK pathway, which then blocked the AKT/GSK-3β/Snail axis to induce E-Cadherin expression and transcriptionally regulated MGAT3 expression to promote bisecting GlcNAc-branched N-glycosylation of E-Cadherin. An orthotopic xenograft model further confirmed that dehydroepiandrosterone reduced lymphatic metastatic rate of OSCC, which was partially reversed by JNK inhibition.


Suppression of G6PD promoted the expression and bisecting GlcNAc-branched N-glycosylation of E-Cadherin via activating the JNK pathway, which thus acted on OSCC metastasis.

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Fig. 1: Expression of G6PD was associated with high metastatic rate and poor prognosis of OSCC.
Fig. 2: Knockdown of G6PD inhibits migration, invasion, and EMT of OSCC cell lines.
Fig. 3: JNK inhibition reversed the G6PD-knockdown-mediated induction of cell migration, invasion, and EMT suppression.
Fig. 4: Knockdown of G6PD promoted E-Cadherin expression via the JNK/AKT/Snail axis.
Fig. 5: Knockdown of G6PD promoted bisecting GlcNAc-branched N-glycosylation of E-Cadherin by transcriptionally regulating the expression of MGAT3.
Fig. 6: Suppression of G6PD by DHEA inhibited lymphatic metastasis in an orthodontic xenograft animal model via activation of the JNK pathway.


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We thank Yixiang Wang of the Central Laboratory and Jianyun Zhang of the Department of pathology of Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology for the assistances in various aspects of this work.

Author information




Y.F.W., L.W. and C.B.G. designed the study. Y.F.W. performed most of the experiments, analysed the data, and wrote the paper. L.W. and C.B.G. provided funding assistance for this study, revised the paper, and were the corresponding authors. Q.X.L. and L.X. assisted with the cell and animal experiments. L.X.N. assisted with the clinical data and patients’ follow-up. Y.X.G. provided critical advises for the study and revised the paper. All authors provided critical feedback on the paper. All authors read and approved the final paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Lin Wang or Chuanbin Guo.

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Ethics approval and consent to participate

For the study on the expression of G6PD in the samples of OSCC patients, it was approved by the Ethics Committee of Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology (NO. PKUSSIRB-201944044) in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Informed consent was obtained from all patients, and telephone follow-up was performed to analyse the survival trends among these patients. For the animal study, all animal studies (including the mice euthanasia procedure) were done in compliance with the regulations and guidelines of Peking University institutional animal care and conducted according to the AAALAC and the IACUC guidelines (NO. LA2019011).

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Funding information

This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81972540, 81672664, and 81802699), and the fund of Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology (PKUSS20170206).

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Wang, Y., Li, Q., Niu, L. et al. Suppression of G6PD induces the expression and bisecting GlcNAc-branched N-glycosylation of E-Cadherin to block epithelial-mesenchymal transition and lymphatic metastasis. Br J Cancer (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-1007-3

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