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EMBO J. Mar 1986; 5(3): 483–489.
PMCID: PMC1166789

Two strains of the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line have distinct glycosphingolipid compositions.


The glycosphingolipids (GSLs) of two sublines of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, an epithelial cell line, were characterized by t.l.c., antibody overlay and mass spectrometry. The major characteristic which distinguishes the two MDCK cell strains is their trans-epithelial electrical resistance which is typically of the order of 3000 ohm.cm2 for strain I and 100 ohm.cm2 for strain II cells. Strain I and II cells were equally rich in glycolipids, the cellular GSL/phospholipid ratio being 0.04. However, while the phospholipid patterns were identical, the GSLs showed striking differences, and each cell strain expressed appreciable amounts of GSLs that were not found in the other strain. Both cell types possessed neutral GSLs with one, two or three carbohydrate moieties. The monoglycosylceramide accounted for 50% of the total GSLs in each strain. However, while in strain I cells over 90% of this monoglycosylceramide was monoglucosylceramide, in strain II cells over 90% consisted of monogalactosylceramide. In addition, MDCK strain II cells selectively expressed GSLs belonging to the globo series (26% of its neutral GSLs), including globoside and Forssman antigen, a globoside derivative. MDCK strain I cells, on the other hand, expressed another series of GSLs with 4-7 carbohydrate moieties characterized by the common sequence Hex-HexNAc-Hex-Hex-Cer. The presence of two fucosylated GSLs in these series was established. Both MDCK strain I and II cells contained negatively charged GSLs, the major component of which was the ganglioside GM3. MDCK strain II cells in addition expressed sulfatide, the sulfated derivative of galactosylceramide.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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