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Cancer Res. 1991 Feb 15;51(4):1242-6.

Quantitative determination of N-glycolylneuraminic acid expression in human cancerous tissues and avian lymphoma cell lines as a tumor-associated sialic acid by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


N-Glycolylneuraminic acid (NeuGc) is distributed in most animals except humans and chickens. However, human and chicken cancerous tissues often synthesize this heterophilic sialic acid as a tumor-associated Hanganutziu-Deicher antigen [M. Naiki and H. Higashi, Adv. Exp. Med. Biol., 152: 445-456, 1982; H. Higashi et al., Cancer Res., 45: 3796-3802, 1985]. In this paper, NeuGc in human cancerous tissues and chicken Marek's disease lymphoma cell lines was determined quantitatively with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis using mass fragmentography. The detectable limit of NeuGc was 40 pg (0.12 pmol) in each injection using 5 ng of trideuteriomethyl ester trideuteriomethyl glycoside of the sialic acid as an internal standard sample when a pair of ions at m/e 386 and 389 was chosen for ion monitoring. NeuGc was detected in ganglioside-rich fractions of various human cancerous tissues from 5 of 8 patients examined but was not detected in glycosphingolipids of normal human tissues. The contents of NeuGc in these cancerous tissues ranged from 0.02 to 0.5% of the total sialic acid content. NeuGc was also detected in freeze-dried samples of 5 different cell lines from chicken Marek's disease lymphomas but was not detected in a cell line from chicken lymphoid leukosis lymphoma and normal chicken skeletal muscle tissue. The contents of NeuGc in the positive cell lines ranged from 0.03 to 0.11% of the total sialic acid content. These results indicate that NeuGc can be synthesized in both humans and chickens in some cancers.

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