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J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 6;277(36):32930-8. Epub 2002 Jun 14.

Genetically altered mice with different sialyltransferase deficiencies show tissue-specific alterations in sialylation and sialic acid 9-O-acetylation.

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  • 1Glycobiology Research and Training Center, Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Glycan chains on glycoconjugates traversing the Golgi apparatus are often terminated by sialic acid residues, which can also be 9-O-acetylated. This process involves competition between multiple Golgi enzymes. Expression levels of Golgi enzyme mRNAs do not always correlate with enzyme activity, which in turn cannot accurately predict glycan sequences found on cell surfaces. Here we examine the cell type-specific expression of terminal glycans in tissues of normal mice in comparison with animals deficient in ST6Gal-I (transfers alpha2-6-linked sialic acid to Galbeta1-4GlcNAc) or ST3Gal-I (transfers alpha2-3-linked sialic acid to Galbeta1-3GalNAc). Tissues of ST6Gal-I null mice showed minimal binding of an alpha2-6-sialic acid-specific lectin, indicating that no other enzyme generates Siaalpha2-6Galbeta1-4GlcNAc and that Siaalpha2-6GalNAc (sialyl-Tn) is rare in mice. However, exposed Galbeta1-4GlcNAc termini were only moderately increased, indicating that these can be partially capped by other enzymes. Indeed, Galalpha1-3Galbeta1-4GlcNAc and Fucalpha1-2Galbeta1-4GlcNAc termini were enhanced in some tissues. Many tissues of ST3Gal-I null animals showed increases in Galbeta1-3GalNAc termini, and some increases in poly-N-acetyllactosamines. However, overall expression of alpha2-3-linked sialic acid was selectively reduced only in a few instances, indicating that other ST3Gal enzymes can generate this linkage in most tissues. Highly selective losses of 9-O-acetylation of sialic acid residues were also observed, with ST6Gal-I deficiency causing loss on endothelium and ST3Gal-I deficiency giving a marked decrease on CD4(+) lymphocytes. These data demonstrate selective regulation of sialylation and 9-O-acetylation, point to cell types with potential physiological defects in null animals, and show in vivo evidence for competition between Golgi enzymes.

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