Noel M, Chasman DI, Mora S, Otvos JD, Palmer CD, Parsons PJ, Smoller JW, Cummings RD, Mealer RG. The Inflammation Biomarker GlycA Reflects Plasma N-Glycan Branching. Clinical chemistry. 2023;69(1):80–87. doi:10.1093/clinchem/hvac160

BACKGROUND: GlycA is a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signal in plasma that correlates with inflammation and cardiovascular outcomes in large data sets. The signal is thought to originate from N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residues of branched plasma N-glycans, though direct experimental evidence is limited. Trace element concentrations affect plasma glycosylation patterns and may thereby also influence GlycA.

METHODS: NMR GlycA signal was measured in plasma samples from 87 individuals and correlated with MALDI-MS N-glycomics and trace element analysis. We further evaluated the genetic association with GlycA at rs13107325, a single nucleotide polymorphism resulting in a missense variant within SLC39A8, a manganese transporter that influences N-glycan branching, both in our samples and existing genome-wide association studies data from 22 835 participants in the Women's Health Study (WHS).

RESULTS: GlycA signal was correlated with both N-glycan branching (r2 ranging from 0.125-0.265; all P < 0.001) and copper concentration (r2 = 0.348, P < 0.0001). In addition, GlycA levels were associated with rs13107325 genotype in the WHS (β [standard error of the mean] = -4.66 [1.2674], P = 0.0002).

CONCLUSIONS: These results provide the first direct experimental evidence linking the GlycA NMR signal to N-glycan branching commonly associated with acute phase reactive proteins involved in inflammation.

Tamadonfar KO, Di Venanzio G, Pinkner JS, Dodson KW, Kalas V, Zimmerman MI, Villicana JB, Bowman GR, Feldman MF, Hultgren SJ. Structure-function correlates of fibrinogen binding by Acinetobacter adhesins critical in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2023;120(4):e2212694120. doi:10.1073/pnas.2212694120

Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii infections are an urgent clinical problem and can cause difficult-to-treat nosocomial infections. During such infections, like catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), A. baumannii rely on adhesive, extracellular fibers, called chaperone-usher pathway (CUP) pili for critical binding interactions. The A. baumannii uropathogenic strain, UPAB1, and the pan-European subclone II isolate, ACICU, use the CUP pili Abp1 and Abp2 (previously termed Cup and Prp, respectively) in tandem to establish CAUTIs, specifically to facilitate bacterial adherence and biofilm formation on the implanted catheter. Abp1 and Abp2 pili are tipped with two domain tip adhesins, Abp1D and Abp2D, respectively. We discovered that both adhesins bind fibrinogen, a critical host wound response protein that is released into the bladder upon catheterization and is subsequently deposited on the catheter. The crystal structures of the Abp1D and Abp2D receptor-binding domains were determined and revealed that they both contain a large, distally oriented pocket, which mediates binding to fibrinogen and other glycoproteins. Genetic, biochemical, and biophysical studies revealed that interactions with host proteins are governed by several critical residues in and along the edge of the binding pocket, one of which regulates the structural stability of an anterior loop motif. K34, located outside of the pocket but interacting with the anterior loop, also regulates the binding affinity of the protein. This study illuminates the mechanistic basis of the critical fibrinogen-coated catheter colonization step in A. baumannii CAUTI pathogenesis.

Meiers J, Dastbaz J, Adam S, Rasheed S, Kirsch SH, Meiser P, Gross P, Müller R, Titz A. Pineapple Lectin AcmJRL Binds SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein in a Carbohydrate-Dependent Fashion. Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology. 2023;24(3):e202200463. doi:10.1002/cbic.202200463

The highly glycosylated spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 is essential for infection and constitutes a prime target for antiviral agents and vaccines. The pineapple-derived jacalin-related lectin AcmJRL is present in the medication bromelain in significant quantities and has previously been described to bind mannosides. Here, we performed a large ligand screening of AcmJRL by glycan array analysis, quantified the interaction with carbohydrates and validated high-mannose glycans as preferred ligands. Because the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was previously reported to carry a high proportion of high-mannose N-glycans, we tested the binding of AcmJRL to the recombinantly produced extraviral domain of spike protein. We could demonstrate that AcmJRL binds the spike protein with a low-micromolar KD in a carbohydrate-dependent fashion.

McKenna MK, Ozcan A, Brenner D, Watanabe N, Legendre M, Thomas DG, Ashwood C, Cummings RD, Bonifant C, Markovitz DM, et al. Novel banana lectin CAR-T cells to target pancreatic tumors and tumor-associated stroma. Journal for immunotherapy of cancer. 2023;11(1). doi:10.1136/jitc-2022-005891

BACKGROUND: Cell therapies for solid tumors are thwarted by the hostile tumor microenvironment (TME) and by heterogeneous expression of tumor target antigens. We address both limitations with a novel class of chimeric antigen receptors based on plant lectins, which recognize the aberrant sugar residues that are a 'hallmark' of both malignant and associated stromal cells. We have expressed in T cells a modified lectin from banana, H84T BanLec, attached to a chimeric antigen receptor (H84T-CAR) that recognizes high-mannose (asparagine residue with five to nine mannoses). Here, we tested the efficacy of our novel H84T CAR in models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), intractable tumors with aberrant glycosylation and characterized by desmoplastic stroma largely contributed by pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs).

METHODS: We transduced human T cells with a second-generation retroviral construct expressing the H84T BanLec chimeric receptor, measured T-cell expansion, characterized T-cell phenotype, and tested their efficacy against PDAC tumor cells lines by flow cytometry quantification. In three-dimensional (3D) spheroid models, we measured H84T CAR T-cell disruption of PSC architecture, and T-cell infiltration by live imaging. We tested the activity of H84T CAR T cells against tumor xenografts derived from three PDAC cell lines. Antitumor activity was quantified by caliper measurement and bioluminescence signal and used anti-human vimentin to measure residual PSCs.

RESULTS: H84T BanLec CAR was successfully transduced and expressed by T cells which had robust expansion and retained central memory phenotype in both CD4 and CD8 compartments. H84T CAR T cells targeted and eliminated PDAC tumor cell lines. They also disrupted PSC architecture in 3D models in vitro and reduced total tumor and stroma cells in mixed co-cultures. H84T CAR T cells exhibited improved T-cell infiltration in multicellular spheroids and had potent antitumor effects in the xenograft models. We observed no adverse effects against normal tissues.

CONCLUSIONS: T cells expressing H84T CAR target malignant cells and their stroma in PDAC tumor models. The incorporation of glycan-targeting lectins within CARs thus extends their activity to include both malignant cells and their supporting stromal cells, disrupting the TME that otherwise diminishes the activity of cellular therapies against solid tumors.

Nielsen MA, Køster D, Mehta AY, Stengaard-Pedersen K, Busson P, Junker P, Hørslev-Petersen K, Hetland ML, Østergaard M, Hvid M, et al. Increased Galectin-9 Levels Correlate with Disease Activity in Patients with DMARD-Naïve Rheumatoid Arthritis and Modulate the Secretion of MCP-1 and IL-6 from Synovial Fibroblasts. Cells. 2023;12(2). doi:10.3390/cells12020327

Background: Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) are essential mediators in the expansive growth and invasiveness of rheumatoid synovitis, and patients with a fibroblastic-rich pauci-immune pathotype respond poorly to currently approved antirheumatic drugs. Galectin-9 (Gal-9) has been reported to directly modulate rheumatoid arthritis (RA) FLSs and to hold both pro- and anti-inflammatory properties. The objective of this study was to evaluate clinical and pathogenic aspects of Gal-9 in RA, combining national patient cohorts and cellular models. Methods: Soluble Gal-9 was measured in plasma from patients with newly diagnosed, treatment-naïve RA (n = 98). The disease activity score 28-joint count C-reactive protein (DAS28CRP) and total Sharp score were used to evaluate the disease course serially over a two-year period. Plasma and synovial fluid samples were examined for soluble Gal-9 in patients with established RA (n = 18). A protein array was established to identify Gal-9 binding partners in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Synovial fluid mononuclear cells (SFMCs), harvested from RA patients, were used to obtain synovial-fluid derived FLSs (SF-FLSs) (n = 7). FLSs from patients suffering from knee Osteoarthritis (OA) were collected from patients when undergoing joint replacement surgery (n = 5). Monocultures of SF-FLSs (n = 6) and autologous co-cultures of SF-FLSs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were cultured with and without a neutralizing anti-Gal-9 antibody (n = 7). The mono- and co-cultures were subsequently analyzed by flow cytometry, MTT assay, and ELISA. Results: Patients with early and established RA had persistently increased plasma levels of Gal-9 compared with healthy controls (HC). The plasma levels of Gal-9 were associated with disease activity and remained unaffected when adding a TNF-inhibitor to their standard treatment. Gal-9 levels were elevated in the synovial fluid of established RA patients with advanced disease, compared with corresponding plasma samples. Gal-9 adhered to fibronectin, laminin and thrombospondin, while not to interstitial collagens in the ECM protein array. In vitro, a neutralizing Gal-9 antibody decreased MCP-1 and IL-6 production from both RA FLSs and OA FLSs. In co-cultures of autologous RA FLSs and PBMCs, the neutralization of Gal-9 also decreased MCP-1 and IL-6 production, without affecting the proportion of inflammatory FLSs. Conclusions: In RA, pretreatment plasma Gal-9 levels in early RA were increased and correlated with clinical disease activity. Gal-9 levels remained increased despite a significant reduction in the disease activity score in patients with early RA. The in vitro neutralization of Gal-9 decreased both MCP-1 and IL-6 production in an inflammatory subset of RA FLSs. Collectively these findings indicate that the persistent overexpression of Gal-9 in RA may modulate synovial FLS activities and could be involved in the maintenance of subclinical disease activity in RA.

Jajosky RP, Wu S-C, Zheng L, Jajosky AN, Jajosky PG, Josephson CD, Hollenhorst MA, Sackstein R, Cummings RD, Arthur CM, et al. ABO blood group antigens and differential glycan expression: Perspective on the evolution of common human enzyme deficiencies. iScience. 2023;26(1):105798. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2022.105798

Enzymes catalyze biochemical reactions and play critical roles in human health and disease. Enzyme variants and deficiencies can lead to variable expression of glycans, which can affect physiology, influence predilection for disease, and/or directly contribute to disease pathogenesis. Although certain well-characterized enzyme deficiencies result in overt disease, some of the most common enzyme deficiencies in humans form the basis of blood groups. These carbohydrate blood groups impact fundamental areas of clinical medicine, including the risk of infection and severity of infectious disease, bleeding risk, transfusion medicine, and tissue/organ transplantation. In this review, we examine the enzymes responsible for carbohydrate-based blood group antigen biosynthesis and their expression within the human population. We also consider the evolutionary selective pressures, e.g. malaria, that may account for the variation in carbohydrate structures and the implications of this biology for human disease.

Azcutia V, Kelm M, Fink D, Cummings RD, Nusrat A, Parkos CA, Brazil JC. Sialylation regulates neutrophil transepithelial migration, CD11b/CD18 activation, and intestinal mucosal inflammatory function. JCI insight. 2023;8(5). doi:10.1172/jci.insight.167151

Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) play a critical role in clearing invading microbes and promoting tissue repair following infection/injury. However, dysregulated PMN trafficking and associated tissue damage is pathognomonic of numerous inflammatory mucosal diseases. The final step in PMN influx into mucosal lined organs (including the lungs, kidneys, skin, and gut) involves transepithelial migration (TEpM). The β2-integrin CD11b/CD18 plays an important role in mediating PMN intestinal trafficking, with recent studies highlighting that terminal fucose and GlcNAc glycans on CD11b/CD18 can be targeted to reduce TEpM. However, the role of the most abundant terminal glycan, sialic acid (Sia), in regulating PMN epithelial influx and mucosal inflammatory function is not well understood. Here we demonstrate that inhibiting sialidase-mediated removal of α2-3-linked Sia from CD11b/CD18 inhibits PMN migration across intestinal epithelium in vitro and in vivo. Sialylation was also found to regulate critical PMN inflammatory effector functions, including degranulation and superoxide release. Finally, we demonstrate that sialidase inhibition reduces bacterial peptide-mediated CD11b/CD18 activation in PMN and blocks downstream intracellular signaling mediated by spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) and p38 MAPK. These findings suggest that sialylated glycans on CD11b/CD18 represent potentially novel targets for ameliorating PMN-mediated tissue destruction in inflammatory mucosal diseases.

Pilewski KA, Wall S, Richardson SI, Manamela NP, Clark K, Hermanus T, Binshtein E, Venkat R, Sautto GA, Kramer KJ, et al. Functional HIV-1/HCV cross-reactive antibodies isolated from a chronically co-infected donor. Cell reports. 2023;42(2):112044. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112044

Despite prolific efforts to characterize the antibody response to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) mono-infections, the response to chronic co-infection with these two ever-evolving viruses is poorly understood. Here, we investigate the antibody repertoire of a chronically HIV-1/HCV co-infected individual using linking B cell receptor to antigen specificity through sequencing (LIBRA-seq). We identify five HIV-1/HCV cross-reactive antibodies demonstrating binding and functional cross-reactivity between HIV-1 and HCV envelope glycoproteins. All five antibodies show exceptional HCV neutralization breadth and effector functions against both HIV-1 and HCV. One antibody, mAb688, also cross-reacts with influenza and coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We examine the development of these antibodies using next-generation sequencing analysis and lineage tracing and find that somatic hypermutation established and enhanced this reactivity. These antibodies provide a potential future direction for therapeutic and vaccine development against current and emerging infectious diseases. More broadly, chronic co-infection represents a complex immunological challenge that can provide insights into the fundamental rules that underly antibody-antigen specificity.

Swanson NJ, Marinho P, Dziedzic A, Jedlicka A, Liu H, Fenstermacher K, Rothman R, Pekosz A. 2019-20 H1N1 clade A5a.1 viruses have better in vitro replication compared with the co-circulating A5a.2 clade. bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology. 2023. doi:10.1101/2023.02.26.530085

Surveillance for emerging human influenza virus clades is important for identifying changes in viral fitness and assessing antigenic similarity to vaccine strains. While fitness and antigenic structure are both important aspects of virus success, they are distinct characteristics and do not always change in a complementary manner. The 2019-20 Northern Hemisphere influenza season saw the emergence of two H1N1 clades: A5a.1 and A5a.2. While several studies indicated that A5a.2 showed similar or even increased antigenic drift compared with A5a.1, the A5a.1 clade was still the predominant circulating clade that season. Clinical isolates of representative viruses from these clades were collected in Baltimore, Maryland during the 2019-20 season and multiple assays were performed to compare both antigenic drift and viral fitness between clades. Neutralization assays performed on serum from healthcare workers pre- and post-vaccination during the 2019-20 season show a comparable drop in neutralizing titers against both A5a.1 and A5a.2 viruses compared with the vaccine strain, indicating that A5a.1 did not have antigenic advantages over A5a.2 that would explain its predominance in this population. Plaque assays were performed to investigate fitness differences, and the A5a.2 virus produced significantly smaller plaques compared with viruses from A5a.1 or the parental A5a clade. To assess viral replication, low MOI growth curves were performed on both MDCK-SIAT and primary differentiated human nasal epithelial cell cultures. In both cell cultures, A5a.2 yielded significantly reduced viral titers at multiple timepoints post-infection compared with A5a.1 or A5a. Receptor binding was then investigated through glycan array experiments which showed a reduction in receptor binding diversity for A5a.2, with fewer glycans bound and a higher percentage of total binding attributable to the top three highest bound glycans. Together these data indicate that the A5a.2 clade had a reduction in viral fitness, including reductions in receptor binding, that may have contributed to the limited prevalence observed after emergence.

Wu S-C, Jan H-M, Vallecillo-Zúniga ML, Rathgeber MF, Stowell CS, Murdock KL, Patel KR, Nakahara H, Stowell CJ, Nahm MH, et al. Whole microbe arrays accurately predict interactions and overall antimicrobial activity of galectin-8 toward distinct strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Scientific reports. 2023;13(1):5324. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-27964-y

Microbial glycan microarrays (MGMs) populated with purified microbial glycans have been used to define the specificity of host immune factors toward microbes in a high throughput manner. However, a limitation of such arrays is that glycan presentation may not fully recapitulate the natural presentation that exists on microbes. This raises the possibility that interactions observed on the array, while often helpful in predicting actual interactions with intact microbes, may not always accurately ascertain the overall affinity of a host immune factor for a given microbe. Using galectin-8 (Gal-8) as a probe, we compared the specificity and overall affinity observed using a MGM populated with glycans harvested from various strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae to an intact microbe microarray (MMA). Our results demonstrate that while similarities in binding specificity between the MGM and MMA are apparent, Gal-8 binding toward the MMA more accurately predicted interactions with strains of S. pneumoniae, including the overall specificity of Gal-8 antimicrobial activity. Taken together, these results not only demonstrate that Gal-8 possesses antimicrobial activity against distinct strains of S. pneumoniae that utilize molecular mimicry, but that microarray platforms populated with intact microbes present an advantageous strategy when exploring host interactions with microbes.