The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) plays important roles during development, plasticity, and regeneration in the adult nervous system. Its function is strongly influenced by attachment of the unusual α2-8-linked polysialic acid (PSA). Here we analyzed the N-glycosylation pattern of polysialylated NCAM from brains of newborn calves. Purified PSA-NCAM glycoprotein was digested with trypsin, and PSA-glycopeptides were separated by immunoaffinity chromatography. For determining the N-glycosylation sites, PNGase F-treated glycopeptides were analyzed by Edman degradation and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS). They were found to be exclusively linked to the fifth (Asn 439) and sixth (Asn 468) N-glycosylation sites in the fifth immunoglobulin-like domain of NCAM. The chain length of PSA consisted of at least 30 sialic acid residues, as shown by anion exchange chromatography. For analysis of the core structures, endoneuraminidase N-treated PSA-NCAM was separated by SDS-PAGE and digested with PNGase F. The core structures of polysialylated glycans were characterized by MALDI-MS combined with exoglycosidase digestions and chromatographic fractionation. They include hybrid, di-, tri-, and small amounts of tetraantennary carbohydrates, which were all fucosylated at the innermost N-acetylglucosamine. For the triantennary glycans, the "2,6" arm was preferred in polysialylated structures. High levels of sulfated groups were found on polysialylated structures and to a lower extent also on nonpolysialylated glycans. In addition, high-mannose-type glycans could be detected on PSA-NCAM glycoforms ranging from (GlcNAc)2(Man)5 up to (GlcNAc)2(Man)9. In conclusion, we observed a structural variability and high regional selectivity for the PSA-glycans attached to the NCAM molecule that are most likely influencing its biological functions.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||17|
|State||Published - Mar 23 2002|
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