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Cancer Res. 1996 Jun 15;56(12):2844-8.

High expression of ganglioside alpha-2,8-sialyltransferase (GD3 synthase) gene in adult T-cell leukemia cells unrelated to the gene expression of human T-lymphotropic virus type I.

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Department of Oncology, Internal Medicine, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki, Japan.


Expression of ganglioside alpha-2,8-sialyltransferase (GD3 synthetase; EC gene and gangliosides in human leukemia cells were analyzed. Flow cytometric analysis of various types of leukemia cells using monoclonal antibodies revealed that GD3 was expressed at a moderate level on adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) cells and weakly on T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia cells. Accordingly, high levels of GD3 synthase mRNA in ATL and low levels in T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia were demonstrated by semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis. High-level expression of the GD3 synthase gene in ATL cells was detected in the uncultured state, and was not changed during short-term culture in vitro. This was in contrast with the rapid up-regulation of GM2/GD2 synthase gene, which was observed within 24 h after start of culture after the emergence of human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) gene expression in cultured normal T lymphocytes with or without HTLV-I p40tax protein, GD3 synthase gene was almost equally expressed, whereas GM2/GD2 synthase gene was much more strongly expressed in the p40tax-positive T cells. These findings indicated that the GD3 synthase gene was highly expressed in ATL cells unrelated to HTLV-I genome expression.

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