FUT9-Driven Programming of Colon Cancer Cells towards a Stem Cell-Like State

Athanasios Blanas, Anouk Zaal, Irene van der Haar Àvila, Maxime Kempers, Laura Kruijssen, Mike de Kok, Marko A Popovic, Joost C van der Horst, Sandra J van Vliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are located in dedicated niches, where they remain inert to chemotherapeutic drugs and drive metastasis. Although plasticity in the CSC pool is well appreciated, the molecular mechanisms implicated in the regulation of cancer stemness are still elusive. Here, we define a fucosylation-dependent reprogramming of colon cancer cells towards a stem cell-like phenotype and function. De novo transcriptional activation of Fut9 in the murine colon adenocarcinoma cell line, MC38, followed by RNA seq-based regulon analysis, revealed major gene regulatory networks related to stemness. Lewisx, Sox2, ALDH and CD44 expression, tumorsphere formation, resistance to 5-FU treatment and in vivo tumor growth were increased in FUT9-expressing MC38 cells compared to the control cells. Likewise, human CRC cell lines highly expressing FUT9 displayed phenotypic features of CSCs, which were significantly impaired upon FUT9 knock-out. Finally, in primary CRC FUT9+ tumor cells pathways related to cancer stemness were enriched, providing a clinically meaningful annotation of the complicity of FUT9 in stemness regulation and may open new avenues for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2580
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020


  • Colon cancer
  • Drug resistance
  • Fucosylation
  • Glycosylation
  • Pluripotency
  • Stem cells

Cite this