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Am J Hum Genet. 1975 Mar;27(2):165-77.

The effect of neuraminidase on genetic variants of alpha anitrypsin.


Sera of Pi types M, F, S, Z, IM, FM, MS, and MZ were incubated with neuraminidase and the reaction products followed by electrophoresis. The alpha1 antitrypsin components showed a series of changes in mobility as sialic residues were removed. Removal of sialic acid was confirmed by chemical assay. Results of studies with two different electrophoretic systems suggested that the Z type alpha1 antitrypsin has less sialic acid than the M, F, and S types. There was no evidence that other genetic variants have a reduced sialic acid content. The two major bands of alpha1 antitrypsin seen in certain electrophoretic systems may reflect a difference of one sialic acid residue. It is proposed that the Z protein lacks a carbohydrate chain with two terminal sialic acid residues. This carbohydrate deficiency results in lack of secretion of type Z alpha1 antitrypsin from the endoplasmic reticulum, perhaps because of binding to sites specific for the incomplete glycoprotein or because of aggregation of the Z asialo protein. A carbohydrate chain could be prevented from attaching to the Z type either because of a conformational change or because of the replacement of a carbohydrate-binding asparagine residue in the Z protein.

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