Sialic acid as a biomarker studied in breast cancer cell lines in vitro using fluorescent molecularly imprinted polymers

Zahra El-Schich, Yuecheng Zhang, Tommy Göransson, Nishtman Dizeyi, Jenny L. Persson, Emil Johansson, Remi Caraballo, Mikael Elofsson, Sudhirkumar Shinde, Börje Sellergren, Anette Gjörloff Wingren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Sialylations are post-translational modifications of proteins and lipids that play important roles in many cellular events, including cell-cell interactions, proliferation, and migration. Tumor cells express high levels of sialic acid (SA), which are often associated with the increased invasive potential in clinical tumors, correlating with poor prognosis. To overcome the lack of natural SA-receptors, such as antibodies and lectins with high enough specificity and sensitivity, we have used molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), or “plastic antibodies”, as nanoprobes. Because high expression of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) in primary tumors is often associated with proliferation and a more aggressive phenotype, the expression of EpCAM and CD44 was initially analyzed. The SA-MIPs were used for the detection of SA on the cell surface of breast cancer cells. Lectins that specifically bind to the a-2,3 SA and a-2,6 SA variants were used for analysis of SA expression, with both flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Here we show a correlation of EpCAM and SA expression when using the SA-MIPs for detection of SA. We also demonstrate the binding pattern of the SA-MIPs on the breast cancer cell lines using confocal microscopy. Pre-incubation of the SA-MIPs with SA-derivatives as inhibitors could reduce the binding of the SA-MIPs to the tumor cells, indicating the specificity of the SA-MIPs. In conclusion, the SA-MIPs may be a new powerful tool in the diagnostic analysis of breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3256
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021-Apr-05
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Clinical Medicine (302)


  • Breast cancer
  • Epithelial cell adhesion molecule
  • Molecularly imprinted polymers
  • Nanoparticles
  • Sialic acid


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