We have utilized glycan microarray technology to determine the receptor binding properties of early isolates from the recent 2009 H1N1 human pandemic (pdmH1N1), and compared them to North American swine influenza isolates from the same year, as well as past seasonal H1N1 human isolates. We showed that the pdmH1N1 strains, as well as the swine influenza isolates examined, bound almost exclusively to glycans with α2,6-linked sialic acid with little binding detected for α2,3-linked species. This is highlighted by pair-wise comparisons between compounds with identical glycan backbones, differing only in the chemistry of their terminal linkages. The overall similarities in receptor binding profiles displayed by pdmH1N1 strains and swine isolates indicate that little or no adaptation appeared to be necessary in the binding component of HA for transmission from pig to human, and subsequent human to human spread.
Effective immunity relies on the recognition of pathogens and tumors by innate immune cells through diverse pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that lead to initiation of signaling processes and secretion of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Galectins, a family of endogenous lectins widely expressed in infected and neoplastic tissues have emerged as part of the portfolio of soluble mediators and pattern recognition receptors responsible for eliciting and controlling innate immunity. These highly conserved glycan-binding proteins can control immune cell processes through binding to specific glycan structures on pathogens and tumors or by acting intracellularly via modulation of selective signaling pathways. Recent findings demonstrate that various galectin family members influence the fate and physiology of different innate immune cells including polymorphonuclear neutrophils, mast cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Moreover, several pathogens may actually utilize galectins as a mechanism of host invasion. In this review, we aim to highlight and integrate recent discoveries that have led to our current understanding of the role of galectins in host-pathogen interactions and innate immunity. Challenges for the future will embrace the rational manipulation of galectin-glycan interactions to instruct and shape innate immunity during microbial infections, inflammation, and cancer.
Loss of T-synthase (uridine diphosphate galactose:N-acetylgalactosaminyl-α1-Ser/Thr β3galactosyltransferase), a key enzyme required for the formation of mucin-type core 1 O-glycans, is observed in several human diseases, including cancer, Tn syndrome and IgA nephropathy, but current methods to assay the enzyme use radioactive substrates and complicated isolation of the product. Here we report the development of a novel fluorescent assay to measure its activity in a variety of tumor cell lines. Deficiencies in T-synthase activity correlate with mutations in the gene encoding the molecular chaperone Cosmc that is required for folding the T-synthase. This new high-throughput assay allows for facile screening of tumor specimens and other biological material for T-synthase activity and could be used diagnostically.
Major challenges of glycomics are to characterize a glycome and identify functional glycans as ligands for glycan-binding proteins (GBPs). To address these issues we developed a general strategy termed shotgun glycomics. We focus on glycosphingolipids (GSLs), a class of glycoconjugates that is challenging to study, recognized by toxins, antibodies and GBPs. We derivatized GSLs extracted from cells with a heterobifunctional fluorescent tag suitable for covalent immobilization. We separated fluorescent GSLs by multidimensional chromatography, quantified them and coupled them to glass slides to create GSL shotgun microarrays. Then we interrogated the microarrays with cholera toxin, antibodies and sera from individuals with Lyme disease to identify biologically relevant GSLs that we subsequently characterized by mass spectrometry. Shotgun glycomics incorporating GSLs and potentially glycoprotein-derived glycans is an approach for accessing the complex glycomes of animal cells and is a strategy for focusing structural analyses on functionally important glycans.
Glycoproteins in animal cells contain a variety of glycan structures that are added co- and/or posttranslationally to proteins. Of over 20 different types of sugar-amino acid linkages known, the two major types are N-glycans (Asn-linked) and O-glycans (Ser/Thr-linked). An abnormal mucin-type O-glycan whose expression is associated with cancer and several human disorders is the Tn antigen. It has a relatively simple structure composed of N-acetyl-D-galactosamine with a glycosidic α linkage to serine/threonine residues in glycoproteins (GalNAcα1-O-Ser/Thr), and was one of the first glycoconjugates to be chemically synthesized. The Tn antigen is normally modified by a specific galactosyltransferase (T-synthase) in the Golgi apparatus of cells. Expression of active T-synthase is uniquely dependent on the molecular chaperone Cosmc, which is encoded by a gene on the X chromosome. Expression of the Tn antigen can arise as a consequence of mutations in the genes for T-synthase or Cosmc, or genes affecting other steps of O-glycosylation pathways. Because of the association of the Tn antigen with disease, there is much interest in the development of Tn-based vaccines and other therapeutic approaches based on Tn expression.
The molecular basis for retention of integral membrane proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is not well understood. We recently discovered a novel ER molecular chaperone termed Cosmc, which is essential for folding and normal activity of the Golgi enzyme T-synthase. Cosmc, a type II single-pass transmembrane protein, lacks any known ER retrieval/retention motifs. To explore specific ER localization determinants in Cosmc we generated a series of Cosmc mutants along with chimeras of Cosmc with a non-ER resident type II protein, the human transferrin receptor. Here we show that the 18 amino acid transmembrane domain (TMD) of Cosmc is essential for ER localization and confers ER retention to select chimeras. Moreover, mutations of a single Cys residue within the TMD of Cosmc prevent formation of disulfide-bonded dimers of Cosmc and eliminate ER retention. These studies reveal that Cosmc has a unique ER-retention motif within its TMD and provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms by which TMDs of resident ER proteins contribute to ER localization.
To examine the range of selective processes that potentially operate when poorly binding influenza viruses adapt to replicate more efficiently in alternative environments, we passaged a virus containing an attenuating mutation in the hemagglutinin (HA) receptor binding site in mice and characterized the resulting mutants with respect to the structural locations of mutations selected, the replication phenotypes of the viruses, and their binding properties on glycan microarrays. The initial attenuated virus had a tyrosine-to-phenylalanine mutation at HA1 position 98 (Y98F), located in the receptor binding pocket, but viruses that were selected contained second-site pseudoreversion mutations in various structural locations that revealed a range of molecular mechanisms for modulating receptor binding that go beyond the scope that is generally mapped using receptor specificity mutants. A comparison of virus titers in the mouse respiratory tract versus MDCK cells in culture showed that the mutants displayed distinctive replication properties depending on the system, but all were less attenuated in mice than the Y98F virus. An analysis of receptor binding properties confirmed that the initial Y98F virus bound poorly to several different species of erythrocytes, while all mutants reacquired various degrees of hemagglutination activity. Interestingly, both the Y98F virus and pseudoreversion mutants were shown to bind very inefficiently to standard glycan microarrays containing an abundance of binding substrates for most influenza viruses that have been characterized to date, provided by the Consortium for Functional Glycomics. The viruses were also examined on a recently developed microarray containing glycans terminating in sialic acid derivatives, and limited binding to a potentially interesting subset of glycans was revealed. The results are discussed with respect to mechanisms for HA-mediated receptor binding, as well as regarding the species of molecules that may act as receptors for influenza virus on host cell surfaces.
Nature possesses an unlimited number and source of biologically-relevant natural glycans, many of which are too complicated to synthesize in the laboratory. To capitalize on the naturally-occurring plethora of glycans, we have developed a method to fluorescently tag the isolated free glycans, which maintains the closed-ring structure. After purification of the labeled glycans, they can be printed on a glass surface to create a natural glycan microarray, available for interrogation with potential glycan-binding proteins. The derivatization of these natural glycans has vastly expanded the number of glycans for functional studies.
Diagnostic methods for parasite infections still highly depend on the identification of the parasites by direct methods such as microscopic examination of blood, stool and tissue biopsies. Serodiagnosis is often carried out to complement the direct methods; however, few synthetic antigens with sufficient sensitivity and specificity are available. Here we evaluated a glycan microarray approach to select for synthetic glycan antigens that could be used for serodiagnosis of parasitic infections. Using a glycan array containing over 250 different glycan antigens, we identified GalNAcβ1-4(Fucα1-3)GlcNAc-R (LDNF) as a glycan antigen that is recognized by antibodies from Trichinella-infected individuals. We synthesized a neoglycoconjugate, consisting of five LDNF molecules covalently coupled to bovine serum albumin (BSA), and used this neoglycoconjugate as an antigen to develop a highly sensitive total-Ig ELISA for serological screening of trichinellosis. The results indicate that glycan microarrays constitute a promising technology for fast and specific identification of parasite glycan antigens to improve serodiagnosis of different parasitic infections, either using an ELISA format, or parasite-specific glycan arrays.
Determination of the binding specificity of glycan-binding proteins (GBPs), such as lectins, antibodies, and receptors, has traditionally been difficult and laborious. The advent of glycan microarrays has revolutionized the field of glycobiology by allowing simultaneous screening of a GBP for interactions with a large set of glycans in a single format. This unit describes the theory and method for production of two types of glycan microarrays (chemo/enzymatically synthesized and naturally derived), and their application to functional glycomics to explore glycan recognition by GBPs. These procedures are amenable to various types of arrays and a wide range of GBP samples.
Many glycan-binding proteins in animals and pathogens recognize sialic acid or its modified forms, but their molecular recognition is poorly understood. Here we describe studies on sialic acid recognition using a novel sialylated glycan microarray containing modified sialic acids presented on different glycan backbones. Glycans terminating in β-linked galactose at the non-reducing end and with an alkylamine-containing fluorophore at the reducing end were sialylated by a one-pot three-enzyme system to generate α2-3- and α2-6-linked sialyl glycans with 16 modified sialic acids. The resulting 77 sialyl glycans were purified and quantified, characterized by mass spectrometry, covalently printed on activated slides, and interrogated with a number of key sialic acid-binding proteins and viruses. Sialic acid recognition by the sialic acid-binding lectins Sambucus nigra agglutinin and Maackia amurensis lectin-I, which are routinely used for detecting α2-6- and α2-3-linked sialic acids, are affected by sialic acid modifications, and both lectins bind glycans terminating with 2-keto-3-deoxy-D-glycero-D-galactonononic acid (Kdn) and Kdn derivatives stronger than the derivatives of more common N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). Three human parainfluenza viruses bind to glycans terminating with Neu5Ac or Neu5Gc and some of their derivatives but not to Kdn and its derivatives. Influenza A virus also does not bind glycans terminating in Kdn or Kdn derivatives. An especially novel aspect of human influenza A virus binding is its ability to equivalently recognize glycans terminated with either α2-6-linked Neu5Ac9Lt or α2-6-linked Neu5Ac. Our results demonstrate the utility of this sialylated glycan microarray to investigate the biological importance of modified sialic acids in protein-glycan interactions.