O-GlcNAc transferase promotes glioblastoma by modulating genes responsible for cell survival, invasion, and inflammation

Muhammad Abid Sheikh, Thilina T. Alawathugoda, Garima Vyas, Bright Starling Emerald, Suraiya A. Ansari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Metabolic reprogramming has emerged as one of the key hallmarks of cancer cells. Various metabolic pathways are dysregulated in cancers, including the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway. Protein O-GlcNAcylation is catalyzed by the enzyme O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT), an effector of hexosamine biosynthesis pathway that is found to be upregulated in most cancers. Posttranslational O-GlcNAcylation of various signaling and transcriptional regulators could promote cancer cell maintenance and progression by regulating gene expression, as gene-specific transcription factors and chromatin regulators are among the most highly O-GlcNAcylated proteins. Here, we investigated the role of OGT in glioblastoma. We demonstrate that OGT knockdown and chemical inhibition led to reduced glioblastoma cell proliferation and downregulation of many genes known to play key roles in glioblastoma cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. We show that genes downregulated due to OGT reduction are also known to be transcriptionally regulated by transcriptional initiation/elongation cofactor BRD4. We found BRD4 to be O-GlcNAcylated in glioblastoma cells; however, OGT knockdown/inhibition neither changed its expression nor its chromatin association on promoters. Intriguingly, we observed OGT knockdown led to reduced Pol II-Ser2P chromatin association on target genes without affecting other transcription initiation/elongation factors. Finally, we found that chemical inhibition of BRD4 potentiated the effects of OGT inhibition in reducing glioblastoma cell proliferation, invasion, and migration. We propose BRD4 and OGT act independently in the transcriptional regulation of a common set of genes and that combined inhibition of OGT and BRD4 could be utilized therapeutically for more efficient glioblastoma cell targeting than targeting of either protein alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105235
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • O-GlcNAcylation
  • gene expression
  • glioblastoma
  • metabolism
  • transcription regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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