Noel M, Chasman D, Mora S, Otvos J, Palmer C, Parsons P, W SJ, Cummings R, Mealer R. The Inflammation Biomarker GlycA Reflects Plasma N-Glycan Branching. Clinical Chemistry. 2022;hvac160.


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.


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).


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).


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.

Suttapitugsakul S, Stavenhagen K, Donskaya S, Bennett D, Mealer R, Seyfried N, Cummings R. Glycoproteomics Landscape of Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Human Alzheimer's Disease Brain. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. 2022.
Molecular changes in the brain of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are an intense area of study. Little is known about the role of protein abundance and post-translational modifications in AD progression and treatment, in particular large-scale intact N-linked glycoproteomics analysis. To elucidate the N-glycoproteome landscape, we developed an approach based on multi-lectin affinity enrichment, hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC), and LC-MS-based glycoproteomics. We analyzed brain tissue from 10 persons with no cognitive impairment or AD, 10 with asymptomatic AD, and 10 with symptomatic AD, detecting over 300 glycoproteins and 1,900 glycoforms across the samples. The majority of glycoproteins have N-glycans that are high-mannosidic or complex chains that are fucosylated and bisected. The Man5 N-glycan was found to occur most frequently at >20% of the total glycoforms. Unlike the glycoproteomes of other tissues, sialylation is a minor feature of the brain N-glycoproteome, occurring at <9% among the glycoforms. We observed AD-associated differences in the number of antennae, frequency of fucosylation, bisection, and other monosaccharides at individual glycosylation sites among samples from our three groups. Further analysis revealed glycosylation differences in subcellular compartments across disease stage, including glycoproteins in the lysosome frequently modified with paucimannosidic glycans. These results illustrate the N-glycoproteomics landscape across the spectrum of AD clinical and pathologic severity, and will facilitate a deeper understanding of progression and treatment development.
Matsumoto Y, Aryal R, Heimburg-Molinaro J, Park S, Wever W, Lehoux S, Stavenhagen K, Wijk J, Die I, Chapman A, et al. Identification and characterization of circulating immune complexes in IgA nephropathy. Science Advances. 2022;8(43).
The underlying pathology of immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy (IgAN), the most common glomerulonephritis worldwide, is driven by the deposition of immune complexes containing galactose-deficient IgA1 [Tn(+)IgA1] in the glomerular mesangium. Here, we report that novel anti-Tn circulating immune complexes (anti-Tn CICs) contain predominantly IgM, representing large macromolecular complexes of ~1.2 megadaltons to several megadalton sizes together with Tn(+)IgA1 and some IgG. These complexes are significantly elevated in sera of patients with IgAN, which contains higher levels of complement C3, compared to healthy individuals. Anti-Tn CICs are bioactive and induce specific proliferation of human renal mesangial cells. We found that these anti-Tn CICs can be dissociated with small glycomimetic compounds, which mimic the Tn antigen of Tn(+)IgA1, releasing IgA1 from anti-Tn CICs. This glycomimetic compound can also significantly inhibit the proliferative activity of anti-Tn CICs of patients with IgAN. These findings could enhance both the diagnosis of IgAN and its treatment, as specific drug treatments are now unavailable.
Cummings R. The mannose receptor ligands and the macrophage glycome. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2022;75:102394.
A unique glycan-binding protein expressed in macrophages and some types of other immune cells is the mannose receptor (MR, CD206). It is an endocytic, transmembrane protein with multiple glycan-binding domains and different specificities in binding glycans. The mannose receptor is important as it has major roles in diverse biological processes, including regulation of circulating levels of reproductive hormones, homeostasis, innate immunity, and infections. These different functions involve the recognition of a wide range of glycans, and their nature is currently under intense study. But the mannose receptor is just one of many glycan-binding proteins expressed in macrophages, leading to an interest in the potential relationship between the macrophage glycome and how it may regulate cognate glycan-binding protein activities. This review focuses primarily on the mannose receptor and its carbohydrate ligands, as well as macrophages and their glycomes.
McKitrick T, Hanes M, Rosenberg C, Heimburg-Molinaro J, Cooper M, Herrin B, Cummings R. Identification of Glycan-Specific Variable Lymphocyte Receptors Using Yeast Surface Display and Glycan Microarrays. Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2421:73-89.
The jawless vertebrates (lamprey and hagfish) evolved a novel adaptive immune system with many similarities to that found in the jawed vertebrates, including the production of antigen-specific circulating antibodies in response to immunization. However, the jawless vertebrates use leucine-rich repeat (LRR)-based antigen receptors termed variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs) for immune recognition, instead of immunoglobulin (Ig)-based receptors. VLR genes are assembled in developing lymphocytes through a gene conversion-like process, in which hundreds of LRR gene segments are randomly selected as template donors to generate a large repertoire of distinct antigen receptors, similar to that found within the mammalian adaptive immune system. Here we describe the development of a robust platform using immunized lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) for generating libraries of anti-carbohydrate (anti-glycan) variable lymphocyte receptor B, or VLRBs. The anti-carbohydrate VLRBs are isolated using a yeast surface display (YSD) expression platform and enriched by binding to glycan microarrays through the anti-glycan VLRB. This enables both the initial identification and enrichment of individual yeast clones against hundreds of glycans simultaneously. Through this enrichment strategy a broad array of glycan-specific VLRs can be isolated from the YSD library. Subsequently, the bound yeast cells are directly removed from the microarray, the VLR antibody clone is sequenced, and the end product is expressed as a VLR-IgG-Fc fusion protein that can be used for ELISA, Western blotting, flow cytometry, and immunomicroscopy. Thus, by combining yeast surface display with glycan microarray technology, we have developed a rapid, efficient, and novel method for generating chimeric VLR-IgG-Fc proteins that recognize a broad array of unique glycan structures with exquisite specificity.
Blenda A, Kamili N, Wu S-C, Abel W, Ayona D, Gerner-Smidt C, Ho A, Benian G, Cummings R, Arthur C, et al. Galectin-9 recognizes and exhibits antimicrobial activity toward microbes expressing blood group-like antigens. J Biol Chem. 2022;298(4):101704.
While adaptive immunity recognizes a nearly infinite range of antigenic determinants, immune tolerance renders adaptive immunity vulnerable to microbes decorated in self-like antigens. Recent studies suggest that sugar-binding proteins galectin-4 and galectin-8 bind microbes expressing blood group antigens. However, the binding profile and potential antimicrobial activity of other galectins, particularly galectin-9 (Gal-9), has remained incompletely defined. Here, we demonstrate that while Gal-9 possesses strong binding preference for ABO(H) blood group antigens, each domain exhibits distinct binding patterns, with the C-terminal domain (Gal-9C) exhibiting higher binding to blood group B than the N-terminal domain (Gal-9N). Despite this binding preference, Gal-9 readily killed blood group B-positive Escherichia coli, whereas Gal-9N displayed higher killing activity against this microbe than Gal-9C. Utilization of microarrays populated with blood group O antigens from a diverse array of microbes revealed that Gal-9 can bind various microbial glycans, whereas Gal-9N and Gal-9C displayed distinct and overlapping binding preferences. Flow cytometric examination of intact microbes corroborated the microbial glycan microarray findings, demonstrating that Gal-9, Gal-9N, and Gal-9C also possess the capacity to recognize distinct strains of Providencia alcalifaciens and Klebsiella pneumoniae that express mammalian blood group-like antigens while failing to bind related strains that do not express mammalian-like glycans. In each case of microbial binding, Gal-9, Gal-9N, and Gal-9C induced microbial death. In contrast, while Gal-9, Gal-9N, and Gal-9C engaged red blood cells, each failed to induce hemolysis. These data suggest that Gal-9 recognition of distinct microbial strains may provide antimicrobial activity against molecular mimicry.
Bojar D, Meche L, Meng G, Eng W, Smith D, Cummings R, Mahal L. A Useful Guide to Lectin Binding: Machine-Learning Directed Annotation of 57 Unique Lectin Specificities. ACS Chem Biol. 2022.
Glycans are critical to every facet of biology and medicine, from viral infections to embryogenesis. Tools to study glycans are rapidly evolving; however, the majority of our knowledge is deeply dependent on binding by glycan binding proteins (e.g., lectins). The specificities of lectins, which are often naturally isolated proteins, have not been well-defined, making it difficult to leverage their full potential for glycan analysis. Herein, we use a combination of machine learning algorithms and expert annotation to define lectin specificity for this important probe set. Our analysis uses comprehensive glycan microarray analysis of commercially available lectins we obtained using version 5.0 of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics glycan microarray (CFGv5). This data set was made public in 2011. We report the creation of this data set and its use in large-scale evaluation of lectin-glycan binding behaviors. Our motif analysis was performed by integrating 68 manually defined glycan features with systematic probing of computational rules for significant binding motifs using mono- and disaccharides and linkages. Combining machine learning with manual annotation, we create a detailed interpretation of glycan-binding specificity for 57 unique lectins, categorized by their major binding motifs: mannose, complex-type N-glycan, O-glycan, fucose, sialic acid and sulfate, GlcNAc and chitin, Gal and LacNAc, and GalNAc. Our work provides fresh insights into the complex binding features of commercially available lectins in current use, providing a critical guide to these important reagents.
Williams S, Noel M, Lehoux S, Cetinbas M, Xavier R, Sadreyev R, Scolnick E, Smoller J, Cummings R, Mealer R. Mammalian brain glycoproteins exhibit diminished glycan complexity compared to other tissues. Nat Commun. 2022;13(1):275.
Glycosylation is essential to brain development and function, but prior studies have often been limited to a single analytical technique and excluded region- and sex-specific analyses. Here, using several methodologies, we analyze Asn-linked and Ser/Thr/Tyr-linked protein glycosylation between brain regions and sexes in mice. Brain N-glycans are less complex in sequence and variety compared to other tissues, consisting predominantly of high-mannose and fucosylated/bisected structures. Most brain O-glycans are unbranched, sialylated O-GalNAc and O-mannose structures. A consistent pattern is observed between regions, and sex differences are minimal compared to those in plasma. Brain glycans correlate with RNA expression of their synthetic enzymes, and analysis of glycosylation genes in humans show a global downregulation in the brain compared to other tissues. We hypothesize that this restricted repertoire of protein glycans arises from their tight regulation in the brain. These results provide a roadmap for future studies of glycosylation in neurodevelopment and disease.


Zeng J, Aryal R, Stavenhagen K, Luo C, Liu R, Wang X, Chen J, Li H, Matsumoto Y, Wang Y, et al. deficiency causes spontaneous autoimmunity by breaking B cell tolerance. Sci Adv. 2021;7(41):eabg9118.
Factors regulating the induction and development of B cell–mediated autoimmunity are not well understood. Here, we report that targeted deletion in murine B cells of X-linked Cosmc, encoding the chaperone required for expression of core 1 O-glycans, causes the spontaneous development of autoimmune pathologies due to a breakdown of B cell tolerance. BC-CosmcKO mice display multiple phenotypic abnormalities, including severe weight loss, ocular manifestations, lymphadenopathy, and increased female-associated mortality. Disruption of B cell tolerance in BC-CosmcKO mice is manifested as elevated self-reactive IgM and IgG autoantibodies. Cosmc-deficient B cells exhibit enhanced basal activation and responsiveness to stimuli. There is also an elevated frequency of spontaneous germinal center B cells in BC-CosmcKO mice. Mechanistically, loss of Cosmc confers enhanced B cell receptor (BCR) signaling through diminished BCR internalization. The results demonstrate that Cosmc, through control of core 1 O-glycans, is a previously unidentified immune checkpoint gene in maintaining B cell tolerance.
Wu S-C, Ho A, Kamili N, Wang J, Murdock K, Cummings R, Arthur C, Stowell S. Full-Length Galectin-3 Is Required for High Affinity Microbial Interactions and Antimicrobial Activity. Front Microbiol. 2021;12:731026.
While adaptive immunity enables the recognition of a wide range of microbial antigens, immunological tolerance limits reactively toward self to reduce autoimmunity. Some bacteria decorate themselves with self-like antigens as a form of molecular mimicry to limit recognition by adaptive immunity. Recent studies suggest that galectin-4 (Gal-4) and galectin-8 (Gal-8) may provide a unique form of innate immunity against molecular mimicry by specifically targeting microbes that decorate themselves in self-like antigens. However, the binding specificity and antimicrobial activity of many human galectins remain incompletely explored. In this study, we defined the binding specificity of galectin-3 (Gal-3), the first galectin shown to engage microbial glycans. Gal-3 exhibited high binding toward mammalian blood group A, B, and αGal antigens in a glycan microarray format. In the absence of the N-terminal domain, the C-terminal domain of Gal-3 (Gal-3C) alone exhibited a similar overall binding pattern, but failed to display the same level of binding for glycans over a range of concentrations. Similar to the recognition of mammalian glycans, Gal-3 and Gal-3C also specifically engaged distinct microbial glycans isolated and printed in a microarray format, with Gal-3 exhibiting higher binding at lower concentrations toward microbial glycans than Gal-3C. Importantly, Gal-3 and Gal-3C interactions on the microbial microarray accurately predicted actual interactions toward intact microbes, with Gal-3 and Gal-3C displaying carbohydrate-dependent binding toward distinct strains of Providentia alcalifaciens and Klebsiella pneumoniae that express mammalian-like antigens, while failing to recognize similar strains that express unrelated antigens. While both Gal-3 and Gal-3C recognized specific strains of P. alcalifaciens and K. pneumoniae, only Gal-3 was able to exhibit antimicrobial activity even when evaluated at higher concentrations. These results demonstrate that while Gal-3 and Gal-3C specifically engage distinct mammalian and microbial glycans, Gal-3C alone does not possess antimicrobial activity.