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Free Content A developmentally regulated α2,8-polysialyltransferase in embryos of the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus

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The recent chemical identification of polysialylated glycoproteins in the jelly coat and on the cell surface of the sea urchin egg raises important questions about their biosynthesis and possible function. Using CMP-[14C]-Neu5Ac as substrate and cell free preparations from eggs and embryos of the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus, we have identified a membrane associated CMP-Neu5Ac:poly-α2,8 sialosyl sialyltransferase (polyST) that transferred Neu5Ac from CMP-Neu5Ac to an endogenous acceptor membrane protein of approximately 38kDa. An average of five to six [14C]-Neu5Ac residues were transferred to the glycan moiety of this protein. The membrane-associated polyST also catalyzed the polysialylation of several exogenous mammalian ganglioside acceptors, including GD3. Given that no structurally similar naturally occurring polysialylated gangliosides have been described, nor were observed in the present study, we conclude that a single polyST activity catalyzes sialylation of the endogenous acceptor protein and the gangliosides. Using an excess of GD3 as an exogenous acceptor, it was established that the expression of the polyST in L. pictus embryos increased rapidly at the mesenchyme blastula stage and reached a maximum at the gastrula stage. The finding that this polyST in the sea urchin embryo is developmentally regulated raises the possibility that it may play a role in the changing cell and tissue interactions that occur during gastrulation and the early stages of spicule formation.

Keywords: Lytechinus pictus; polysialyltransferase; sea urchin embryo

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5215, USA. 2: Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California School of Medicine, Davis, Califorinia 95616, USA. 3: Institute of Biological Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei 115, Taiwan.

Publication date: October 1, 1996

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