An efficient and robust HPLC method to determine the sialylation levels of human epithelial cells

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Sialyltransferase, an enzyme responsible for attaching sialic acid to the cell surface, is reported to play a key role in cancer, making sialyltransferase a potential therapeutic target in drug development. Several methods have been developed to quantify sialic acids in biological samples however limitations exists and quantification in complex cell matrices lack investigation. Hence, this paper outlines a simple method to detect and quantify sialic acids in cancer cells for evaluating sialyltransferase activity of potential therapeutic compounds. An efficient method was developed using a reverse-phase ion-pairing HPLC-UV using triisopropanolamine as the ion-pairing agent with a C18 column. Neu5Ac was successfully eluted with the retention time 6.344 min with a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min. The proposed method was validated appropriately according to the AOAC guidelines (2013). This work demonstrates that the proposed method is not only relatively simple but also cost and time effective compared to pre-existing methods to successfully determine both free and protein-bound Neu5Ac in a complex cancer cell matrix. Furthermore, by applying the proposed method, a statistically significant decrease was observed for both HeLa and HuCCT1 cell lines with the application of deoxycholic acid-a known sialyltransferase inhibitor. Hence, the proposed method seems promisingly applicable to evaluate the effectiveness of potential sialyltransferase inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0257178
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022


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