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Anal Biochem. 2012 Jun 15;425(2):135-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Scaling down the size and increasing the throughput of glycosyltransferase assays: activity changes on stem cell differentiation.

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Chemical and Biological Engineering, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA.


Glycosyltransferases (glycoTs) catalyze the transfer of monosaccharides from nucleotide-sugars to carbohydrate-, lipid-, and protein-based acceptors. We examined strategies to scale down and increase the throughput of glycoT enzymatic assays because traditional methods require large reaction volumes and complex chromatography. Approaches tested used (i) microarray pin printing, an appropriate method when glycoT activity was high; (ii) microwells and microcentrifuge tubes, a suitable method for studies with cell lysates when enzyme activity was moderate; and (iii) C(18) pipette tips and solvent extraction, a method that enriched reaction product when the extent of reaction was low. In all cases, reverse-phase thin layer chromatography (RP-TLC) coupled with phosphorimaging quantified the reaction rate. Studies with mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) demonstrated an increase in overall β(1,3)galactosyltransferase and α(2,3)sialyltransferase activity and a decrease in α(1,3)fucosyltransferases when these cells differentiate toward cardiomyocytes. Enzymatic and lectin binding data suggest a transition from Lewis(x)-type structures in mESCs to sialylated Galβ1,3GalNAc-type glycans on differentiation, with more prominent changes in enzyme activity occurring at later stages when embryoid bodies differentiated toward cardiomyocytes. Overall, simple, rapid, quantitative, and scalable glycoT activity analysis methods are presented. These use a range of natural and synthetic acceptors for the analysis of complex biological specimens that have limited availability.

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