Galectins are an evolutionarily ancient family of glycan-binding proteins (GBPs) and are found in all animals. Although they were discovered over 30 years ago, ideas about their biological functions continue to evolve. Current evidence indicates that galectins, which are the only known GBPs that occur free in the cytoplasm and extracellularly, are involved in a variety of intracellular and extracellular pathways contributing to homeostasis, cellular turnover, cell adhesion, and immunity. Here we review evolving insights into galectin biology from a historical perspective and explore current evidence regarding biological roles of galectins.
Galectins can display unique sensitivity to oxidative changes that result in significant conformational alterations that prevent carbohydrate recognition. While a variety of approaches can be utilized to prevent galectin oxidation, several of these require inclusion of reducing agents that not only prevent galectins from undergoing oxidative inactivation, but can also interfere with normal redox potentials required for fundamental cellular processes. To overcome limitations associated with placing cells in an artificial reducing environment, cysteine residues on galectins can be directly alkylated with iodoacetamide to form a stable thioether adduct that is resistant to further modification. Iodoacetamide alkylated galectin remains stable over prolonged periods of time and retains the carbohydrate binding and biological activities of the native protein. As a result, this approach allows examination of the biological roles of a stabilized form of galectin-1 without introducing the confounding variables that can occur when typical soluble reducing agents are employed.
Cellular turnover represents a fundamental aspect of immunological homeostasis. While many factors appear to regulate leukocyte removal during inflammatory resolution, recent studies suggest that members of the galectin family play a unique role in orchestrating this process. Unlike cellular removal through apoptotic cell death, several members of the galectin family induce surface expression of phosphatidylserine (PS), a phagocytic marker on cells undergoing apoptosis, in the absence of cell death. However, similar to PS on cells undergoing apoptosis, galectin-induced PS exposure sensitizes cells to phagocytic removal. As galectins appear to prepare cells for phagocytic removal without actually inducing apoptotic cell death, this process has recently been coined preaparesis. Given the unique characteristics of galectin-induced PS exposure in the context of preaparesis, we will examine important considerations when evaluating the potential impact of different galectin family members on PS exposure and cell viability.
Over a century ago, Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood group antigens could predict the immunological outcome of red blood cell transfusion. While the discovery of ABO(H) blood group antigens revolutionized transfusion medicine, many questions remain regarding the development and regulation of naturally occurring anti-blood group antibody formation. Early studies suggested that blood group antibodies develop following stimulation by bacteria that express blood group antigens. While this may explain the development of anti-blood group antibodies in blood group negative individuals, how blood group positive individuals, who cannot generate anti-blood group antibodies, protect themselves against blood group positive microbes remained unknown. Recent studies suggest that several members of the galectin family specifically target blood group positive microbes, thereby providing innate immune protection against blood group antigen positive microbes regardless of the blood group status of an individual. Importantly, subsequent studies suggest that this unique form of immunity may not be limited to blood group expressing microbes, but may reflect a more generalized form of innate immunity against molecular mimicry. As this form of antimicrobial activity represents a unique and unprecedented form of immunity, we will examine important considerations and methodological approaches that can be used when seeking to ascertain the potential antimicrobial activity of various members of the galectin family.
We have utilized simple flow cytometric and fluorescence-based solid phase assays to study the interaction of glycan-binding proteins (GBP) to cell surface glycoconjugates. These methods utilize commonly employed flow cytometry techniques and commercially available streptavidin-coated microplates to immobilize various biotinylated ligands, such as glycopeptides, oligosaccharides, and whole cells. Using this approach, fluorescently labeled GBPs, in particular, members of the galectin family, can be interrogated for potential interactions with cell surface carbohydrates, including elucidation of the potential impact of alterations in glycosylation on carbohydrate recognition. Using these approaches, we present examples of flow cytometric and fluorescence-based solid phase assays to study galectin-carbohydrate interactions.
Glycan binding proteins (GBPs) possess the unique ability to regulate a wide variety of biological processes through interactions with highly modifiable cell surface glycans. While many studies demonstrate the impact of glycan modification on GBP recognition and activity, the relative contribution of subtle changes in glycan structure on GBP binding can be difficult to define. To overcome limitations in the analysis of GBP-glycan interactions, recent studies utilized glycan microarray platforms containing hundreds of structurally defined glycans. These studies not only provided important information regarding GBP-glycan interactions, but have also resulted in significant insight into the binding specificity and biological activity of the galectin family. We will describe the methods used when employing glycan microarray platforms to examine galectin-glycan binding specificity and function.
Despite the paradigm that carbohydrates are T cell-independent antigens, isotype-switched glycan-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and polysaccharide-specific T cells are found in humans. We used a systems-level approach combined with glycan array technology to decipher the repertoire of carbohydrate-specific IgG antibodies in intravenous and subcutaneous immunoglobulin preparations. A strikingly universal architecture of this repertoire with modular organization among different donor populations revealed an association between immunogenicity or tolerance and particular structural features of glycans. Antibodies were identified with specificity not only for microbial antigens but also for a broad spectrum of host glycans that serve as attachment sites for viral and bacterial pathogens and/or exotoxins. Tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens were differentially detected by IgG antibodies, whereas non-IgG2 reactivity was predominantly absent. Our study highlights the power of systems biology approaches to analyze immune responses and reveals potential glycan antigen determinants that are relevant to vaccine design, diagnostic assays, and antibody-based therapies.
The 300 kDa cation-independent mannose 6-phosphate receptor (CI-MPR) plays an essential role in lysosome biogenesis by targeting ∼ 60 different phosphomannosyl-containing acid hydrolases to the lysosome. This type I membrane glycoprotein has a large extracellular region comprised of 15 homologous domains. Two mannose 6-phosphate (M6P) binding sites have been mapped to domains 3 and 9, whereas domain 5 binds preferentially to the phosphodiester, M6P-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). A structure-based sequence alignment predicts that the C-terminal domain 15 contains three out of the four conserved residues identified as essential for carbohydrate recognition by domains 3, 5 and 9 of the CI-MPR, but lacks two cysteine residues that are predicted to form a disulfide bond. To determine whether domain 15 of the CI-MPR has lectin activity and to probe its carbohydrate-binding specificity, truncated forms of the CI-MPR were tested for binding to acid hydrolases with defined N-glycans in surface plasmon resonance analyses, and used to interrogate a phosphorylated glycan microarray. The results show that a construct encoding domains 14-15 binds both M6P and M6P-GlcNAc with similar affinity (Kd = 13 and 17 μM, respectively). Site-directed mutagenesis studies demonstrate the essential role of the conserved Tyr residue in domain 15 for phosphomannosyl binding. A structural model of domain 15 was generated that predicted an Arg residue to be in the binding pocket and mutagenesis studies confirmed its important role in carbohydrate binding. Together, these results show that the CI-MPR contains a fourth carbohydrate-recognition site capable of binding both phosphomonoesters and phosphodiesters.
Neoplastic transformation results in a wide variety of cellular alterations that impact the growth, survival, and general behavior of affected tissue. Although genetic alterations underpin the development of neoplastic disease, epigenetic changes can exert an equally significant effect on neoplastic transformation. Among neoplasia-associated epigenetic alterations, changes in cellular glycosylation have recently received attention as a key component of neoplastic progression. Alterations in glycosylation appear to not only directly impact cell growth and survival but also facilitate tumor-induced immunomodulation and eventual metastasis. Many of these changes may support neoplastic progression, and unique alterations in tumor-associated glycosylation may also serve as a distinct feature of cancer cells and therefore provide novel diagnostic and even therapeutic targets.
Bacteriophage receptor-binding proteins (RBPs) confer host specificity. We previously identified a putative RBP (Gp047) from the campylobacter lytic phage NCTC 12673 and demonstrated that Gp047 has a broader host range than its parent phage. While NCTC 12673 recognizes the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) of a limited number of Campylobacter jejuni isolates, Gp047 binds to a majority of C. jejuni and related Campylobacter coli strains. In this study, we demonstrate that Gp047 also binds to acapsular mutants, suggesting that unlike the parent phage, CPS is not the receptor for Gp047. Affinity chromatography and far-western analyses of C. jejuni lysates using Gp047 followed by mass spectrometry indicated that Gp047 binds to the major flagellin protein, FlaA. Because C. jejuni flagellin is extensively glycosylated, we investigated this binding specificity further and demonstrate that Gp047 only recognizes flagellin decorated with acetamidino-modified pseudaminic acid. This binding activity is localized to the C-terminal quarter of the protein and both wild-type and coccoid forms of C. jejuni are recognized. In addition, Gp047 treatment agglutinates vegetative cells and reduces their motility. Because Gp047 is highly conserved among all campylobacter phages sequenced to date, it is likely that this protein plays an important role in the phage life cycle.
This review discusses the challenges facing research in 'functional glycomics' and the novel technologies that are being developed to advance the field. The structural complexity of glycans and glycoconjugates makes studies of both their structures and recognition difficult. However, these intricate structures can be captured from their natural sources, isolated and fluorescently-tagged for detailed structural analysis and for presentation on glycan microarrays for functional recognition by glycan-binding proteins. These advances in glycan preparation and manipulation enable the streamlining of functional glycomics studies and will help to propel the field forward in studying natural, biologically relevant glycans.
Blockade of P-selectin (P-sel)/PSGL-1 interactions holds significant potential for treatment of disorders of innate immunity, thrombosis and cancer. Current inhibitors remain limited due to low binding affinity or by the recognized disadvantages inherent to chronic administration of antibody therapeutics. Here we report an efficient approach for generating glycosulfopeptide mimics of N-terminal PSGL-1 through development of a stereoselective route for multi-gram scale synthesis of the C2 O-glycan building block and replacement of hydrolytically labile tyrosine sulfates with isosteric sulfonate analogues. Library screening afforded a compound of exceptional stability, GSnP-6, that binds to human P-sel with nanomolar affinity (Kd~22 nM). Molecular dynamics simulation defines the origin of this affinity in terms of a number of critical structural contributions. GSnP-6 potently blocks P-sel/PSGL-1 interactions in vitro and in vivo and represents a promising candidate for the treatment of diseases driven by acute and chronic inflammation.
The mammalian immune system responds to eukaryotic glycan antigens during infections, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, but the immunological bases for such responses are unclear. Conjugate vaccines containing bacterial polysaccharides linked to carrier proteins (neoglycoconjugates) have proven successful, but these often contain repeating epitopes and the reducing end of the glycan is less important, unlike typical glycan determinants in eukaryotes, which are shorter in length and may include the reducing end. Here, we have compared the effects of two linkage methods, one that opens the ring at the reducing end of the glycan, and one that leaves the reducing end closed, on the glycan specificity of the vaccine response in rabbits and mice. We immunized rabbits and mice with bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugates of synthetic open- and closed-ring forms (OR versus CR) of a simple tetrasaccharide lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT, Galβ1-4GlcNAcβ1-3Galβ1-4Glc), and tested reactivity to the immunogens and several related glycans in both OR and CR versions on glycan microarrays. We found that in rabbits the immune response to the CR conjugate was directed toward the glycan, whereas the OR conjugate elicited antibodies to the reducing end of the glycan and linker region but not specifically to the glycan itself. Unexpectedly, mice did not generate a glycan-specific response to the CR conjugate. Our findings indicate that the reducing end of the sugar is crucial for generation of a glycan-specific response to some eukaryotic vaccine epitopes, and that there are species-specific differences in the ability to make a glycan-specific response to some glycoconjugates. These findings warrant further investigation with regard to rational design of glycoconjugate vaccines.
The T-synthase (core 1 β3-galactosyltransferase) and its molecular chaperone Cosmc regulate the biosynthesis of mucin type O-glycans on glycoproteins, and evidence suggests that both T-synthase and Cosmc are transcriptionally suppressed in several human diseases, although the transcriptional regulation of these two genes is not understood. Here, we characterized the promoters essential for human Cosmc and T-synthase transcription. The upstream regions of the genes lack a conventional TATA box but contain CpG islands, cCpG-I and cCpG-II for Cosmc and tCpG for T-synthase. Using luciferase reporter assays, site-directed mutagenesis, ChIP assays, and mithramycin A treatment, we identified the core promoters within cCpG-II and tCpG, which contain two binding sites for Krüppel-like transcription factors, including SP1/SP3, respectively. Methylome analysis of Tn4 B cells, which harbor a silenced Cosmc, confirmed the hypermethylation of the Cosmc core promoter but not for T-synthase. These results demonstrate that Cosmc and T-synthase are transcriptionally regulated at a basal level by the specificity protein/Krüppel-like transcription factor family of members, which explains their ubiquitous and coordinated expression, and also indicate that they are differentially epigenetically regulated beyond X chromosome imprinting. These results are important in understanding the regulation of these genes that have roles in human diseases, such as IgA nephropathy and cancer.
The glycans displayed on mammalian cells can differ markedly from those on microbes. Such differences could, in principle, be 'read' by carbohydrate-binding proteins, or lectins. We used glycan microarrays to show that human intelectin-1 (hIntL-1) does not bind known human glycan epitopes but does interact with multiple glycan epitopes found exclusively on microbes: β-linked D-galactofuranose (β-Galf), D-phosphoglycerol-modified glycans, heptoses, D-glycero-D-talo-oct-2-ulosonic acid (KO) and 3-deoxy-D-manno-oct-2-ulosonic acid (KDO). The 1.6-Å-resolution crystal structure of hIntL-1 complexed with β-Galf revealed that hIntL-1 uses a bound calcium ion to coordinate terminal exocyclic 1,2-diols. N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac), a sialic acid widespread in human glycans, has an exocyclic 1,2-diol but does not bind hIntL-1, probably owing to unfavorable steric and electronic effects. hIntL-1 marks only Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes that display surface glycans with terminal 1,2-diol groups. This ligand selectivity suggests that hIntL-1 functions in microbial surveillance.
Schistosomiasis is a common debilitating human parasitic disease in (sub)tropical areas, however, schistosome infections can also protect against a variety of inflammatory diseases. This has raised broad interest in the mechanisms by which Schistosoma modulate the immune system into an anti-inflammatory and regulatory state. Human dendritic cells (DCs) show many phenotypic changes upon contact with Schistosoma mansoni soluble egg antigens (SEA). We here show that oxidation of SEA glycans, but not heat-denaturation, abrogates the capacity of SEA to suppress both LPS-induced cytokine secretion and DC proliferation, indicating an important role of SEA glycans in these processes. Remarkably, interaction of SEA glycans with DCs results in a strongly increased expression of Suppressor Of Cytokine Signalling1 (SOCS1) and SH2-containing protein tyrosine Phosphatase-1 (SHP1), important negative regulators of TLR4 signalling. In addition, SEA induces the secretion of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), and the surface expression of the costimulatory molecules Programmed Death Ligand-1 (PD-L1) and OX40 ligand (OX40L), which are known phenotypic markers for the capacity of DCs to polarize naïve T cells into Th2/Treg cell subsets. Inhibition of mannose receptor (MR)-mediated internalization of SEA into DCs by blocking with allyl α-D-mannoside or anti-MR antibodies, significantly reduced SOCS1 and SHP1 expression. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SEA glycans are essential for induction of enhanced SOCS1 and SHP1 levels in DCs via the MR. Our data provide novel mechanistic evidence for the potential of S. mansoni SEA glycans to modulate human DCs, which may contribute to the capacity of SEA to down-regulate inflammatory responses.
Mucin-type O-glycans are a class of glycans initiated with N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) α-linked primarily to Ser/Thr residues within glycoproteins and often extended or branched by sugars or saccharides. Most secretory and membrane-bound proteins receive this modification, which is important in regulating many biological processes. Alterations in mucin-type O-glycans have been described across tumor types and include expression of relatively small-sized, truncated O-glycans and altered terminal structures, both of which are associated with patient prognosis. New discoveries in the identity and expression of tumor-associated O-glycans are providing new avenues for tumor detection and treatment. This chapter describes mucin-type O-glycan biosynthesis, altered mucin-type O-glycans in primary tumors, including mechanisms for structural changes and contributions to the tumor phenotype, and clinical approaches to detect and target altered O-glycans for cancer treatment and management.
This work describes the synthesis of the 1,2,3-triazole amino acid-derived-3-O-galactosides 1-6 and the 1,2,3-triazole di-lactose-derived glycoconjugate 7 as potential galectin-3 inhibitors. The target compounds were synthesized by Cu(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition reaction ('click chemistry') between the azido-derived amino acids N3-ThrOBn, N3-PheOBn, N3-N-Boc-TrpOBn, N3-N-Boc-LysOBn, N3-O-tBu-AspOBn and N3-l-TyrOH, and the corresponding alkyne-based sugar 3-O-propynyl-GalOMe, as well as by click chemistry reaction between the azido-lactose and 2-propynyl lactose. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) assays showed that all synthetic glycoconjugates 1-7 bound to galectin-3 with high affinity, but the highest binders were the amino acids-derived glycoconjugates 2 (KD 7.96μM) and 4 (KD 4.56μM), and the divalent lactoside 7 (KD1 0.15μM/KD2 19μM). Molecular modeling results were in agreement with SPR assays, since more stable interactions with galectin-3 were identified for glycoconjugates 2, 4 and 7. Regarding compounds 2 and 4, they established specific cation-π (Arg144) and ionic (Asp148) interactions, whereas glycoconjugate 7 was capable to bridge two independent galectin-3 CRDs, creating a non-covalent cross-link between two monomers and, thus, reaching a submicromolar affinity towards galectin-3.
Inflammatory immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis are major health problems. Currently, the intestinal whipworm Trichuris suis is being explored in clinical trials to reduce inflammation in these diseases; however, the mechanisms by which the parasite affects the host immune system are not known. Here we determined the effects of T. suis soluble products (SPs) on Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4)-stimulated human dendritic cells (DCs) using Illumina bead chip gene arrays. Pathway analysis of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated DCs with or without T. suis treatment showed that co-stimulation with T. suis SPs resulted in a downregulation of both the myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88-dependent and the TIR-domain-containing adaptor-inducing interferon-β-dependent signalling pathways triggered by TLR4. These data were verified using quantitative real-time PCR of several key genes within these pathways and/or defining their protein levels. In addition, T. suis SPs induce Rab7b, a negative regulator of TLR4 signalling that interferes with its trafficking, which coincided with a reduced surface expression of TLR4. These data indicate that the mechanism by which T. suis SPs reduce inflammatory responses is through suppression of both TLR4 signalling and surface expression on DCs.
Strain-dependent variation of glycan recognition during initial cell attachment of viruses is a critical determinant of host specificity, tissue-tropism and zoonosis. Rotaviruses (RVs), which cause life-threatening gastroenteritis in infants and children, display significant genotype-dependent variations in glycan recognition resulting from sequence alterations in the VP8* domain of the spike protein VP4. The structural basis of this genotype-dependent glycan specificity, particularly in human RVs, remains poorly understood. Here, from crystallographic studies, we show how genotypic variations configure a novel binding site in the VP8* of a neonate-specific bovine-human reassortant to uniquely recognize either type I or type II precursor glycans, and to restrict type II glycan binding in the bovine counterpart. Such a distinct glycan-binding site that allows differential recognition of the precursor glycans, which are developmentally regulated in the neonate gut and abundant in bovine and human milk provides a basis for age-restricted tropism and zoonotic transmission of G10P rotaviruses.