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Eur J Biochem. 2004 Feb;271(4):678-84.

The role of N-linked glycosylation in the protection of human and bovine lactoferrin against tryptic proteolysis.

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Pharming, Archimedesweg, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Lactoferrin (LF) is an iron-binding glycoprotein of the innate host defence system. To elucidate the role of N-linked glycosylation in protection of LF against proteolysis, we compared the tryptic susceptibility of human LF (hLF) variants from human milk, expressed in human 293(S) cells or in the milk of transgenic mice and cows. The analysis revealed that recombinant hLF (rhLF) with mutations Ile130-->Thr and Gly404-->Cys was about twofold more susceptible than glycosylated and unglycosylated variants with the naturally occurring Ile130 and Gly404. Hence, N-linked glycosylation is not involved in protection of hLF against tryptic proteolysis. Apparently, the previously reported protection by N-linked glycosylation of hLF [van Berkel, P.H.C., Geerts, M.E.J., van Veen, H.A., Kooiman, P.M., Pieper, F., de Boer, H.A. & Nuijens, J.H. (1995) Biochem. J. 312, 107-114] is restricted to rhLF containing the Thr130 and Cys404. Comparison of the tryptic proteolysis of hLF and bovine LF (bLF) revealed that hLF is about 100-fold more resistant than bLF. Glycosylation variants A and B of bLF differed by about 10-fold in susceptibility to trypsin. This difference is due to glycosylation at Asn281 in bLF-A. Hence, glycosylation at Asn281 protects bLF against cleavage by trypsin at Lys282.

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