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J Clin Invest. 1995 Oct;96(4):1759-67.

Identification and characterization of a gene regulating enzymatic glycosylation which is induced by diabetes and hyperglycemia specifically in rat cardiac tissue.

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Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Primary cardiac abnormalities have been frequently reported in patients with diabetes probably due to metabolic consequences of the disease. Approximately 2,000 mRNA species from the heart of streptozotocin-induced diabetic and control rats were compared by the mRNA differential display method, two of eight candidate clones thus isolated (DH1 and 13) were confirmed by Northern blot analysis. The expression of clone 13 was increased in the heart by 3.5-fold (P < 0.05) and decreased in the aorta by twofold (P < 0.05) in diabetes as compared to control. Sequence analysis showed that clone 13 is a rat mitochondrial gene. DH1 was predominantly expressed in the heart with an expression level 6.8-fold higher in the diabetic rats than in control (P < 0.001). Insulin treatment significantly (P < 0.001) normalized the expression of DH1 in the hearts of diabetic rats. DH1 expression was observed in cultured rat cardiomyocytes, but not in aortic smooth muscle cells or in cardiac derived fibroblasts. The expression in cardiomyocytes was regulated by insulin and glucose concentration of culture media. The full length cDNA of DH1 had a single open-reading frame with 85 and 92% amino acid identity to human and mouse UDP-GlcNAc:Gal beta 1-3GalNAc alpha R beta 1-6 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (core 2 GlcNAc-T), respectively, a key enzyme determining the structure of O-linked glycosylation. Transient transfection of DH1 cDNA into Cos7 cells conferred core 2 GlcNAc-T enzyme activity. In vivo, core 2 GlcNAc-T activity was increased by 82% (P < 0.05) in diabetic hearts vs controls, while the enzymes GlcNAc-TI and GlcNAc-TV responsible for N-linked glycosylation were unchanged. These results suggest that core 2 GlcNAc-T is specifically induced in the heart by diabetes or hyperglycemia. The induction of this enzyme may be responsible for the increase in the deposition of glycoconjugates and the abnormal functions found in the hearts of diabetic rats.

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