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Biochemistry. 1994 Apr 19;33(15):4661-6.

Glycosphingolipids of rat T cells. Predominance of asialo-GM1 and GD1c.

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Environmental Health Sciences Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Ibaraki, Japan.


Glycosphingolipids play an important role in the immune response, yet their compositions in T and B cells which mediate cellular and humoral immunity, respectively, have not been elucidated. In this study, characteristic features of glycosphingolipids in rat T lineage cells were revealed by comparing the gangliosides and neutral glycolipids of spleen T- and beta-cell-enriched fractions and thymocytes. In T cells, GD1c(NeuGc,NeuGc), a unique ganglioside synthesized through asialo-GM1 (GA1), was the predominant ganglioside as previously found in thymocytes [Nohara, K., Suzuki, M., Inagaki, F., & Kaya, K. (1991) J. Biochem. (Tokyo) 110, 274-278], and the amount was much higher than in thymocytes. In addition, three other GA1-derived gangliosides were detected in T cells and identified as GM1b(NeuAc), GM1b(NeuGc), and GD1 alpha(NeuAc,NeuAc). In contrast, GD1 alpha(NeuAc,NeuAc) was not discernible in thymocytes, although gangliosides corresponding to GM1b(NeuAc) and GM1b(NeuGc) were detected. The neutral glycolipids of T cells contained almost exclusively GA1, while thymocytes contained much lower amounts. The predominance of these GA1-derived gangliosides was confirmed as a singular feature of T lineage cells by comparison with gangliosides of spleen B-cell-enriched fractions which mainly consisted of gangliosides synthesized through GM3 and GM1. Furthermore, the unique structures, which contain the GM1 core and the extended modification of the lacto series, alpha Gal-LacNAc-GM1, alpha Gal-(LacNAc)2-GM1, and sialyl-LacNAc-GM1, were found in B-cell-enriched fractions. Unexpectedly, the neutral glycolipid composition of the thymocytes resembled that of the B-cell enriched fraction rather than that of the T cells.

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