Multi-glycomic analysis of spheroid glycocalyx differentiates 2- and 3-dimensional cell models

Qingwen Zhou, Michael Russelle S. Alvarez, Kemal Solakyildirim, Jennyfer Tena, Luster Mae N. Serrano, Matthew Lam, Cynthia Nguyen, Fernando Tobias, Amanda B. Hummon, Ruel C. Nacario, Carlito B. Lebrilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A multi-glycomic method for characterizing the glycocalyx was employed to identify the difference between 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) culture models with two human colorectal cancer cell lines, HCT116 and HT29. 3D cell cultures are considered more representative of cancer due to their ability to mimic the microenvironment found in tumors. For this reason, they have become an important tool in cancer research. Cell-cell interactions increase in 3D models compared to 2D, indeed significant glycomic changes were observed for each cell line. Analyses included the N-glycome, O-glycome, glycolipidome, glycoproteome, and proteome providing the most extensive characterization of the glycocalyx between 3D and 2D thus far. The different glycoconjugates were affected in different ways. In the N-glycome, the 3D cells increased in high-mannose glycosylation and in core fucosylation. Glycolipids increased in sialylation. Specific glycoproteins were found to increase in the 3D cell, elucidating the pathways that are affected between the two models. The results show large structural and biological changes between the 2 models suggesting that the 2 are indeed very different potentially affecting individual outcomes in the study of diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-16
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2023


  • 3D cell culture model
  • colon cancer
  • glycomics
  • mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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