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Open Access Research article

Synthesis and expression of CDw75 antigen in human colorectal cancer

Clotilde Costa-Nogueira1, Susana Villar-Portela1, Elisa Cuevas2, Emilio Gil-Martín1 and Almudena Fernández-Briera1*

  • * Corresponding author: Almudena Fernández-Briera

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology, Faculty of Biology, University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain

2 Pathology Service, University Hospital Complex, Ourense, Spain

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:431  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-431

Published: 10 December 2009



Increased ST6Gal I activity has been associated with the α(2,6)sialylation enhancement of membrane glycoconjugates observed in metastatic colorectal carcinomas (CRC). Siaα(2,6)Galβ(1,4)GlcNAc sequence, known as CDw75, is a sialylated carbohydrate determinant generated by the ST6Gal I. This epitope has been reported to be associated with the progression of gastric and colorectal tumours, hence there are only a few conclusive studies to date.


By radioisotopic techniques we evaluated the ST6Gal I activity in healthy, transitional and tumour tissues from 43 patients with CRC. By immunohistochemistry we assessed the CDw75 expression in 25 colorectal adenomas, 43 tumours, 13 transitional and 28 healthy tissues of CRC patients.


ST6Gal I activity was likewise found to be statistically higher in tumour tissue respect to healthy tissue from CRC patients. CDw75 expression was positive in 20% of colorectal adenomas. Furthermore, 70% of tumour specimens and 8.3% of transitional specimens were positive for CDw75 expression, whereas none of the healthy ones showed the presence of the epitope.


The major contribution of this study is the inclusion of data from transitional tissue and the analysis of CDw75 antigen expression in CRC and in colorectal adenomas, little known so far. ST6Gal I activity and CDw75 antigen expression were increased in CRC. Although their comparison did not reach the statistical significance, a great extent of patients showed both, an enhanced tumour ST6Gal I activity and an increased CDw75 expression in the tumour tissue. So, these two variables may play a role in malignant transformation. The expression of CDw75 in colorectal adenomas suggests that this antigen may be a tumour marker in CRC.