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J Carbohydr Chem. 2013 Jan 1;32(1):44-67. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

Lack of iGb3 and Isoglobo-Series Glycosphingolipids in Pig Organs Used for Xenotransplantation: Implications for Natural Killer T-Cell Biology.

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1
MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, Houston, Texas, USA.

Abstract

α-1,3-Terminated galactose residues on glycoproteins and glycosphingolipids are recognized by natural anti-α-1,3-galactose antibodies in human serum and cause hyperacute rejection in pig-to-human xenotransplantation. Genetic depletion of α-1,3-galactosyltransferase-1 in pigs abolishes the hyperacute rejection reaction. However, the isoglobotriosylceramide (iGb3) synthase in pigs may produce additional α-1,3-terminated galactose residues on glycosphingolipids. In both α-1,3-galactosyltranserase-1 knockout mice and pigs, cytotoxic anti-α-1,3-galactose antibodies could be induced; thus, a paradox exists that anti-α-1,3-galactose antibodies are present in animals with functional iGb3 synthases. Furthermore, iGb3 has been found to be an endogenous antigen for natural killer T (NKT) cells, an innate type of lymphocyte that may initiate the adaptive immune responses. It has been reasoned that iGb3 may trigger the activation of NKT cells and cause the rejection of α-1,3-galactosyltransferase-1-deficient organs through the potent stimulatory effects of NKT cells on adaptive immune cells (see ref.([20])). In this study, we examined the expression of iGb3 and the isoglobo-series glycosphingolipids in pig organs, including the heart, liver, pancreas, and kidney, by ion-trap mass spectrometry, which has a sensitivity of measuring 1% iGb3 among Gb3 isomers, when 5 μg/mL of the total iGb3/Gb3 mixture is present (see ref.([35])). We did not detect iGb3 or other isoglobo-series glycosphingolipids in any of these organs, although they were readily detected in mouse and human thymus and dendritic cells. The lack of iGb3 and isoglobo-series glycosphingolipids in pig organs indicates that iGb3 is unlikely to be a relevant immune epitope in xenotransplantation.

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