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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Dec;84(23):8716-20.

O-acetylation of a cell-surface carbohydrate creates discrete molecular patterns during neural development.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021-6399.


The cell-surface antigen detected by the monoclonal antibody JONES is expressed in the retina and a number of other central nervous system regions of the rat during the latter part of embryonic development and the early postnatal period. In addition to the expression on certain neuroblast populations it is found on some but not all axons and is also expressed at high levels on the end feet of radial glia in regions through which axons actively grow. In the perinatal rat retina, almost all the antigenic activity was carried on a ganglioside migrating between GM1 and GM2. The epitope recognized by antibody JONES was base labile and treatment with 0.1 M sodium carbonate or ammonia vapor converted the antigen into GD3. Resistance to oxidation by sodium periodate and reformation of the epitope by chemical acetylation of base-treated gangliosides with N-acetylimidazole identify the antigen as 9-O-acetyl GD3. The acetylation of GD3 seems to be regulated independently from GD3 expression itself since acetylated and nonacetylated GD3 do not have identical immunocytochemical distributions in the developing central nervous system. In addition, five independent human melanoma cell lines varied substantially in their expression of 9-O-acetyl GD3, even though they all expressed high levels of GD3. Acetylation of ganglioside-linked sialic acid provides a mechanism for generating unique patterns of surface carbohydrates, which may influence cell interactions in development.

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