Polysialic acid, a glycan with highly restricted expression, is found on human and murine leukocytes and modulates immune responses.

Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 12/2008; 181(10):6850-8.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Polysialic acid (polySia) is a large glycan with restricted expression, typically found attached to the protein scaffold neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). PolySia is best known for its proposed role in modulating neuronal development. Its presence and potential functions outside the nervous systems are essentially unexplored. Herein we show the expression of polySia on hematopoietic progenitor cells, and demonstrate a role for this glycan in immune response using both acute inflammatory and tumor models. Specifically, we found that human NK cells modulate expression of NCAM and the degree of polymerization of its polySia glycans according to activation state. This contrasts with the mouse, where polySia and NCAM expression are restricted to multipotent hematopoietic progenitors and cells developing along a myeloid lineage. Sialyltransferase 8Sia IV(-/-) mice, which lacked polySia expression in the immune compartment, demonstrated an increased contact hypersensitivity response and decreased control of tumor growth as compared with wild-type animals. This is the first demonstration of polySia expression and regulation on myeloid cells, and the results in animal models suggest a role for polySia in immune regulation.

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    ABSTRACT: Polysialic acid (polySia) is a unique linear homopolymer of α2,8-linked sialic acid that has been studied extensively as a posttranslational modification of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM/CD56) in the central nervous system. Only two proteins are known to be polysialylated in cells of the immune system: CD56 on human natural killer cells and murine bone marrow (BM) leukocytes, and neuropilin-2 (NRP-2) on dendritic cells (DC). We tested the hypothesis that polySia expression is regulated during maturation and migration of leukocytes and plays a role in functional activity. Using wild type and NCAM(-/-) mice, we show that BM neutrophils express only polysialylated CD56, whereas a subset of BM monocytes expresses polysialylated CD56 and/or another polysialylated protein(s). We demonstrate that polysialylated CD56 expression is progressively down-regulated in wild type monocytes and monocyte-derived cells during migration from BM through peripheral blood (PB) to pulmonary and peritoneal sites of inflammation. Freshly-isolated monocyte-derived peritoneal macrophages are devoid of polySia yet reexpress polySia on NRP-2 and an additional protein(s) after maintenance in culture. Removal of polySia from these cells enhances phagocytosis of Klebsiella pneumoniae, suggesting that down-regulation of polySia on macrophages facilitates bacterial clearance. Using wild type and NRP-2(-/-) mice, we demonstrate that NRP-2 and an additional protein(s) are polysialylated by ST8 SiaIV in BM-derived DCs. We conclude that polySia expression in monocyte-derived cells is dynamically regulated by ST8 SiaIV activity and by expression of carrier proteins during recruitment to sites of inflammation and influences cellular interactions with microbes, contributing to innate and adaptive immune responses.
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    ABSTRACT: Bacterial glycosyltransferases (GT) often synthesize the same glycan linkages as mammalian GT; yet, they usually have very little sequence identity. Nevertheless, enzymatic properties, folding, substrate specificities, and catalytic mechanisms of these enzyme proteins may have significant similarity. Thus, bacterial GT can be utilized for the enzymatic synthesis of both bacterial and mammalian types of complex glycan structures. A comparison is made here between mammalian and bacterial enzymes that synthesize epitopes found in mammalian glycoproteins, and those found in the O antigens of Gram-negative bacteria. These epitopes include Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF or T) antigen, blood group O, A, and B, type 1 and 2 chains, Lewis antigens, sialylated and fucosylated structures, and polysialic acids. Many different approaches can be taken to investigate the substrate binding and catalytic mechanisms of GT, including crystal structure analyses, mutations, comparison of amino acid sequences, NMR, and mass spectrometry. Knowledge of the protein structures and functions helps to design GT for specific glycan synthesis and to develop inhibitors. The goals are to develop new strategies to reduce bacterial virulence and to synthesize vaccines and other biologically active glycan structures.
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May 23, 2014