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Plant J. 1997 Dec;12(6):1411-7.

N-glycans harboring the Lewis a epitope are expressed at the surface of plant cells.

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Laboratoire des Transports Intracellulaires, ESA-CNRS 6037, Université de Rouen, Faculté des Sciences, Mont Saint Aignan, France.


In plants, N-linked glycans are processed in the Golgi apparatus to complex-type N-glycans of limited size containing a beta(1,2)-xylose and/or an alpha(1,3)-fucose residue. Larger mono- and bi-antennary N-linked complex glycans have not often been described. This study has re-examined the structure of such plant N-linked glycans, and, through both immunological and structural data, it is shown that the antennae are composed of Lewis a (Le(a)) antigens, comprising the carbohydrate sequence Gal beta 1-3[Fuc alpha 1-4]GlcNAc. Furthermore, a fucosyltransferase activity involved in the biosynthesis of this antigen was detected in sycamore cells. This is the first characterization in plants of a Lewis antigen that is usually found on cell-surface glycoconjugates in mammals and involved in recognition and adhesion processes. Le(a)-containing N-linked glycans are widely distributed in plants and highly expressed at the cell surface, which may suggest a putative function in cell/cell communication.

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