A Sulfated Glycosaminoglycan Linkage Region Is a Novel Type of Human Natural Killer-1 (HNK-1) Epitope Expressed on Aggrecan in Perineuronal Nets

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Abstract

Human natural killer-1 (HNK-1) carbohydrate (HSO3-3GlcAβ1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R) is highly expressed in the brain and required for learning and neural plasticity.We previously demonstrated that expression of the HNK-1 epitope is mostly abolished in knockoutmice for GlcAT-P (B3gat1), a major glucuronyltransferase required for HNK-1 biosynthesis, but remained in specific regions such as perineuronal nets (PNNs) in these mutantmice. Considering PNNs are mainly composed of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and regulate neural plasticity, GlcAT-P-independent expression of HNK-1 in PNNs is suggested to play a role in neural plasticity. However, the function, structure, carrier glycoprotein and biosynthetic pathway for GlcAT-P-irrelevant HNK-1 epitope remain unclear. In this study, we identified a unique HNK-1 structure on aggrecan in PNNs. To determine the biosynthetic pathway for the novel HNK-1, we generated knockout mice for GlcAT-S (B3gat2), the other glucuronyltransferase required for HNK-1 biosynthesis. However, GlcAT-P and GlcAT-S double-knockout mice did not exhibit reduced HNK-1 expression compared with single GlcAT-P-knockoutmice, indicating an unusual biosynthetic pathway for the HNK-1 epitope in PNNs. Aggrecan was purified from cultured cells in which GlcAT-P and-S are not expressed and we determined the structure of the novel HNK-1 epitope using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) as a sulfated linkage region of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), HSO3-GlcA-Gal-Gal-Xyl-R. Taken together, we propose a hypothetical model where GlcAT-I, the sole glucuronyltransferase required for synthesis of the GAG linkage, is also responsible for biosynthesis of the novel HNK-1 on aggrecan. These results could lead to discovery of new roles of the HNK-1 epitope in neural plasticity.

Journal

  • PLOS ONE

    PLOS ONE 10 (12), e0144560-, 2015-12

    Public Library of Science

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