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Concept: Sialic acid


Influenza is a severe disease in humans and animals with few effective therapies available. All strains of influenza virus are prone to developing drug resistance due to the high mutation rate in the viral genome. A therapeutic agent that targets a highly conserved region of the virus could bypass resistance and also be effective against multiple strains of influenza. Influenza uses many individually weak ligand-binding interactions for a high-avidity multivalent attachment to sialic acid-bearing cells. Polymerized sialic acid analogs can form multivalent interactions with influenza, but are not ideal therapeutics due to solubility and toxicity issues. We used liposomes as a novel means for delivery of the glycan sialylneolacto-N-tetraose c (LSTc). LSTc-bearing decoy liposomes form multivalent, polymer-like interactions with influenza virus. Decoy liposomes competitively bind influenza virus in hemagglutination inhibition assays and inhibit infection of target cells in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition is specific for influenza virus, as inhibition of Sendai virus and respiratory syncytial virus is not observed. In contrast, monovalent LSTc does not bind influenza virus or inhibit infectivity. LSTc decoy liposomes prevent the spread of influenza virus during multiple rounds of replication in vitro and extend survival of mice challenged with a lethal dose of virus. LSTc decoy liposomes co-localize with fluorescently tagged influenza virus, while control liposomes do not. Considering the conservation of the hemagglutinin binding pocket and the ability of decoy liposomes to form high avidity interactions with influenza hemagglutinin, our decoy liposomes have potential as a new therapeutic agent against emerging influenza strains.

Concepts: Microbiology, Sialic acid, Therapy, Influenza, Human respiratory syncytial virus, Orthomyxoviridae, Influenza A virus, Influenzavirus A


The first step in influenza infection of the human respiratory tract is binding of the virus to sialic (Sia) acid terminated receptors. The binding of different strains of virus for the receptor is determined by the α linkage of the sialic acid to galactose and the adjacent glycan structure. In this study the N- and O-glycan composition of the human lung, bronchus and nasopharynx was characterized by mass spectrometry. Analysis showed that there was a wide spectrum of both Sia α2-3 and α2-6 glycans in the lung and bronchus. This glycan structural data was then utilized in combination with binding data from 4 of the published glycan arrays to assess whether these current glycan arrays were able to predict replication of human, avian and swine viruses in human ex vivo respiratory tract tissues. The most comprehensive array from the Consortium for Functional Glycomics contained the greatest diversity of sialylated glycans, but was not predictive of productive replication in the bronchus and lung. Our findings indicate that more comprehensive but focused arrays need to be developed to investigate influenza virus binding in an assessment of newly emerging influenza viruses.

Concepts: Protein, Virus, Sialic acid, Influenza, Respiratory system, Consortium for Functional Glycomics, Glycomics, Glycan


Binding of cellular α-dystroglycan (α-DG) to its extracellular matrix ligands is fully dependent on a unique O-mannose-linked glycan. Disrupted O-mannosylation is the hallmark of the muscular dystrophy-dystroglycanopathy (MDDG) syndromes. SLC35A1, encoding the transporter of CMP-sialic acid, was recently identified as MDDG candidate gene. This is surprising, since sialic acid itself is dispensable for α-DG-ligand binding. In a novel SLC35A1-deficient cell model, we demonstrated a lack of α-DG O-mannosylation, ligand binding and incorporation of sialic acids. Removal of sialic acids from HAP1 wild type cells after incorporation or preventing sialylation during synthesis did not affect α-DG O-mannosylation or ligand binding but did affect sialylation. Lentiviral-mediated complementation with the only known disease mutation p.Q101H failed to restore deficient O-mannosylation in SLC35A1 knockout cells and partly restored sialylation. These data indicate a role for SLC35A1 in α-DG O-mannosylation that is distinct from sialic acid metabolism. In addition, human SLC35A1 deficiency can be considered as a combined disorder of α-DG O-mannosylation and sialylation, a novel variant of the MDDG syndromes.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Amine, Ammonia, Sialic acid, Ligand, Jason Statham


Recent studies have elucidated that expression of certain glycoproteins in human saliva are increased or decreased according to age, meanwhile, human saliva may inhibit viral infection and prevent viral transmission. However, little is known about the age- and sex-associated differences in the glycopatterns of human salivary glycoproteins and their significant roles against influenza A virus (IVA). Here we investigate the glycopatterns of human salivary glycoproteins with 180 healthy saliva samples divided into six age/sex groups using lectin microarrays and fabricate saliva microarrays to validate the terminal carbohydrate moieties of glycoproteins in individual saliva samples. Furthermore, we assess the inhibiting and neutralizing activity of saliva against two strains of influenza A (H9N2) virus. We find that seven lectins (e.g., MAL-II and SNA) show significant age differences in both females and males, and seven lectins (e.g., WFA and STL) show significant sex differences in children, adults and elderly people. Interestingly, we observe that elderly individuals have strongest resistance to IVA partly by presenting more terminal α2-3/6-linked sialic acid residues in their saliva, which bind with the influenza viral hemagglutinations. We conclude that age- and sex- associated differences in the glycopatterns of human salivary glycoproteins may provide pivotal information to help understand some age related diseases and physiological phenomenon.

Concepts: Male, Death, Female, Sialic acid, Influenza, Sex, Glycoprotein, Orthomyxoviridae


A new influenza-like virus genome (H17N10) was recently discovered in bats and offers a new perspective about the origin and evolution of influenza viruses. The viral envelope glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA) is responsible for influenza virus receptor binding, fusion, and entry into the cell; therefore, the structure and function of HA H17 was characterized. The 2.70 Å resolution crystal structure revealed that H17 has a typical influenza A virus HA fold, but with some special features, including a distorted putative sialic acid (SA) binding site and low thermostability. No binding to either the canonical human α2,6 SA-linkage or avian α2,3 SA-linkage receptor was observed. Furthermore, H17 glycan binding was not detected using a chip covering more than 600 glycans. Our results demonstrate that H17 is unique among characterized HAs and that the bat-derived influenza virus may use a different entry mechanism compared to canonical influenza viruses.

Concepts: Protein, Microbiology, Virus, Sialic acid, Influenza, Orthomyxoviridae


The pentasaccharide part of the potent neuritogenic ganglioside GAA-7 has been synthesized for the first time. The unique branched terminus constituting partially modified sialic acids and N-acetylgalactosamine was successfully established by stereoselective double-sialylation using 8-O-methyl-N-Troc-sialic acid as a donor. The final 4 + 1 coupling reaction provided a high yield of pentasaccharide, which was deprotected to deliver the target molecule.

Concepts: Oxygen, Sialic acid, Chemical reaction, Salt, 2004 singles


BACKGROUND: Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a major causative agent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), and infection of EV71 to central nerve system (CNS) may result in a high mortality in children less than 2 years old. Although there are two highly glycosylated membrane proteins, SCARB2 and PSGL-1, which have been identified as the cellular and functional receptors of EV71, the role of glycosylation in EV71 infection is still unclear. RESULTS: We demonstrated that the attachment of EV71 to RD and SK-N-SH cells was diminished after the removal of cell surface sialic acids by neuraminidase. Sialic acid specific lectins, MAA and SNA, could compete with EV71 and restrained the binding of EV71 significantly. Preincubation of RD cells with fetuin also reduced the binding of EV71. In addition, we found that SCARB2 was a sialylated glycoprotein and interaction between SCARB2 and EV71 was retarded after desialylation. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we demonstrated that cell surface sialic acids assist in the attachment of EV71 to host cells. Cell surface sialylation should be a key regulator that facilitates the binding and infection of EV71 to RD and SK-N-SH cells.

Concepts: Protein, Enterovirus, Enzyme, Glucose, Sialic acid, Endoplasmic reticulum, Carbohydrate chemistry, Glycoprotein


Campylobacter jejuni is the most common bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis and often precedes development of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a life-threatening paralytic disease. The incorporation of the carbohydrate sialic acid into C. jejuni lipooligosaccharides (LOS) is associated with increased severity of gastroenteritis and with induction of GBS; however, the underlying mechanisms remain completely unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that sialic acids in C. jejuni endotoxin enhance the rapid production of IFN-β and TNF-α by human dendritic cells (DCs). Using neutralizing Abs and receptors it was shown that these DC-derived cytokines promote the proliferation of human mucosal B cells in a T cell-independent manner. The production of both IFN-β and TNF-α by DCs in response to LOS requires CD14, and the amplified response of DCs to sialylated C. jejuni LOS is CD14 dependent. Together, these results indicate that sialylation of C. jejuni LOS increases DC activation and promotes subsequent B cell responses through CD14-driven production of IFN-β and TNF-α. This enhanced DC/B cell response may explain the increased pathogenicity of sialylated C. jejuni and may be key to the initiation of B cell-mediated autoimmunity in GBS.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Sialic acid, Toll-like receptor, Humoral immunity, Gastroenteritis, Campylobacter, Campylobacter jejuni


Glycosylation, an important posttranslational modification process, can modulate the structure and function of proteins, but its effect on the properties of plasma cells is largely unknown. In this study, we identified a panel of glycoproteins by click reaction with alkynyl sugar analogs in plasma cells coupled with mass spectrometry analysis. The B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), an essential membrane protein for maintaining the survival of plasma cells, was identified as a glycoprotein exhibiting complex-type N-glycans at a single N-glycosylation site, asparagine 42. We then investigated the effect of N-glycosylation on the function of BCMA and found that the dexamethasone-induced apoptosis in malignant plasma cells can be rescued by treatment with BCMA ligands, such as a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) and B-cell-activating factor (BAFF), whereas removal of terminal sialic acid on plasma cells further potentiated the ligand-mediated protection. This effect is associated with the increased surface retention of BCMA, leading to its elevated level on cell surface. In addition, the α1-3,-4 fucosylation, but not the terminal sialylation, assists the binding of BCMA with ligands in an in vitro binding assay. Together, our results highlight the importance of N-glycosylation on BCMA in the regulation of ligand binding and functions of plasma cells.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Mass spectrometry, Sialic acid, B cell, Posttranslational modification, Glycosylation, Glycoprotein


Presence of sialic acid distinguishes gangliosides from other glycosphingolipids, helps maintain membrane structure and organization as well as acts as anchors for lectins, toxins and pathogens. The number and position of the sialic acid residues on gangliosides appear to influence the binding affinity and specificity of gangliosides. We have investigated the dependence of bicellar properties on sialic acids using Monosialo1 (GM1), Disialo1b (GD1b) and Trisialo1a (GT1a) gangliosides incorporated in phospholipid bicelles. TEM, AFM and DLS show that increasing numbers of sialic acid moieties per ganglioside results in an increase in bicelle size. DPH fluorescence anisotropy results suggest that with incorporation of gangliosides in bicelles the orientational order of the hydrocarbon chains increases. Fluorescence anisotropy was used to explore the effect of gangliosides on lateral phase separation in ganglioside enriched bicelles. GM1 and GT1a exhibited a low Tm melting domain (DMPC rich) and a high Tm melting domain (ganglioside rich). For GD1b containing bicelles, no significant phase separation was observed, suggesting a single homogeneous phase. Symmetric and antisymmetric stretching vibrational bands of methylene shift to a lower wave number, implying acyl chain order decreasing as GT1a≪GM1

Concepts: Cell membrane, Sialic acid, Wave, Glycoprotein, Ganglioside, Grammatical number, Cholera toxin, GM1