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FEBS J. 2005 May;272(10):2545-56.

Differential expression of endogenous sialidases of human monocytes during cellular differentiation into macrophages.

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  • 1Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Sialidases are enzymes that influence cellular activity by removing terminal sialic acid from glycolipids and glycoproteins. Four genetically distinct sialidases have been identified in mammalian cells. In this study, we demonstrate that three of these sialidases, lysosomal Neu1 and Neu4 and plasma membrane-associated Neu3, are expressed in human monocytes. When measured using the artificial substrate 2'-(4-methylumbelliferyl)-alpha-d-N-acetylneuraminic acid (4-MU-NANA), sialidase activity of monocytes increased up to 14-fold per milligram of total protein after cells had differentiated into macrophages. In these same cells, the specific activity of other cellular proteins (e.g. beta-galactosidase, cathepsin A and alkaline phosphatase) increased only two- to fourfold during differentiation of monocytes. Sialidase activity measured with 4-MU-NANA resulted from increased expression of Neu1, as removal of Neu1 from the cell lysate by immunoprecipitation eliminated more than 99% of detectable sialidase activity. When exogenous mixed bovine gangliosides were used as substrates, there was a twofold increase in sialidase activity per milligram of total protein in monocyte-derived macrophages in comparison to monocytes. The increased activity measured with mixed gangliosides was not affected by removal of Neu1, suggesting that the expression of a sialidase other than Neu1 was present in macrophages. The amount of Neu1 and Neu3 RNAs detected by real time RT-PCR increased as monocytes differentiated into macrophages, whereas the amount of Neu4 RNA decreased. No RNA encoding the cytosolic sialidase (Neu2) was detected in monocytes or macrophages. Western blot analysis using specific antibodies showed that the amount of Neu1 and Neu3 proteins increased during monocyte differentiation. Thus, the differentiation of monocytes into macrophages is associated with regulation of the expression of at least three distinct cellular sialidases, with specific up-regulation of the enzyme activity of only Neu1.

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