Detection of the L2/HNK‐1 Carbohydrate Epitope on Glycoproteins and Acidic Glycolipids of the Insect Calliphora vicina

Roger D. Dennis, Horst Antonicek, Herbert Wiegandt, Melitta Schachner

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Abstract: The same or a very similar carbohydrate determinant, as represented by some sulfated, glucuronic acid‐containing glycosphingolipids of human peripheral nerve, occurs on several adhesion molecules in the mammalian nervous system. In the present study, the occurrence of this epitope on glycoproteins and glycolipids of the fly, Calliphora vicina, was investigated by Western blot analysis and thin‐layer chromatogram immunostaining. Several monoclonal antibodies recognizing an epitope on various neural cell adhesion molecules, designated L2 (334, 336, 349, and 412); the monoclonal antibody HNK‐1 (recognizing an epitope on human natural killer cells); and a human IgM M‐protein were found to react by Western blot analysis with various glycoproteins from larval and adult brains, although the intensity of staining of bands recognized by each antibody varied. Acidic glycolipids from pupae were also recognized, but only by the L2 antibody 334 and IgM M‐protein. After de‐sulfation of the acidic glycolipid fraction, the immunostaining pattern remained the same, an observation suggesting that the L2/HNK‐1 epitope on insect acidic glycolipids contains a nonsulfated, glucuronic acid moiety. These observations indicate that the L2/HNK.‐1 carbohydrate structure occurs not only in vertebrates but also in insects on both glycoproteins and glycolipids, a finding suggesting a high degree of phylogenetic stability of this functionally important carbohydrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1490-1496
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • Brain
  • Glycolipids
  • Glycoproteins
  • Insect
  • L2/HNK‐1 carbohydrate epitope
  • Monoclonal antibodies


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