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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 3;278(1):573-84. Epub 2002 Oct 28.

Cloning and characterization of a new human UDP-N-acetyl-alpha-D-galactosamine:polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase, designated pp-GalNAc-T13, that is specifically expressed in neurons and synthesizes GalNAc alpha-serine/threonine antigen.

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Glycogene Function Team, Research Center for Glycoscience, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Central-2, Open Space Laboratory, 1-1-1 Umezono, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8568, Japan.


To date, 10 members of the UDP-N-acetyl-alpha-d-galactosamine:polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase (pp-GalNAc-T) family have been cloned and analyzed in human. In this study, we cloned and analyzed a novel human pp-GalNAc-T from an NT2 cell cDNA library, and we named it pp-GalNAc-T13. In amino acid sequences, pp-GalNAc-T13 was highly homologous, showing 84.3% identity, to pp-GalNAc-T1. Real time PCR analysis revealed pp-GalNAc-T13 to be highly and restrictively expressed in the brain and present at very low or undetectable levels in other tissues, in contrast to the ubiquitous expression of pp-GalNAc-T1. pp-GalNAc-T13 was abundantly expressed in all neuroblastoma cells examined and primary cultured neurons but not in glioblastoma cells and primary cultured astrocytes. pp-GalNAc-T13 exhibited much stronger activity to transfer GalNAc to mucin peptides, such as Muc5Ac and MUC7, than did pp-GalNAc-T1. In addition, pp-GalNAc-T13 differed in substrate specificity to pp-GalNAc-T1. pp-GalNAc-T13 was able to form a triplet Tn epitope, three consecutive GalNAc-Ser/Thr structures, on peptides encoded in syndecan-3, a proteoglycan expressed in neurons. pp-GalNAc-T13-deficient mice have been established in a previous work. Immunohistochemical study showed a remarkable decrease in Tn antigen expression in the cerebellum of the pp-GalNAc-T13 knockout mouse. pp-GalNAc-T13 would be a major enzyme responsible for the synthesis of O-glycan and specifically the Tn antigen epitope in neurons.

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