Author(s): Hakomori S
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Abstract Our studies on glycosphingolipids (GSLs) were initiated through isolation and structural characterization of lacto-series type 1 and 2 GSLs, and globo-series GSLs. Lacto-series structures included histo-blood group ABH and I/i antigens. Our subsequent studies were focused on GSL changes associated with: (i) ontogenic development and differentiation; (ii) oncogenic transformation and tumor progression. Various novel types of GSLs such as extended globo-series, sialyl-Le(x) (SLe(x)), sialyl-dimeric-Le(x) (SLe(x)-Le(x)), dimeric-Le(x) (Le(x)-Le(x)), Le(y)-on-Le(x), dimeric-Le(a) (Le(a)-Le(a)), Le(b)-on-Le(a), etc. were identified as tumor-associated antigens. These studies provide an essential basis for up- or down-regulation of key glycosyltransferase genes controlling development, differentiation, and oncogenesis. GSL structures established in our laboratory are summarized in Table 1, and structural changes of GSLs associated with ontogenesis and oncogenesis are summarized in Sections 2 and 3. Based on these results, we endeavored to find out the cell biological significance of GSL changes, focused on (i) cell adhesion, e.g., the compaction process of preimplantation embryo in which Le(x)-to-Le(x), Gb4-to-GalGb4 or -nLc4 play major roles; and (ii) modulation of signal transduction through interaction of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase with ganglioside, e.g., EGF receptor tyrosine kinase with GM3. Recent trends of studies on i and ii lead to the concept that GSL clusters (microdomains) are organized with various signal transducer molecules to form 'glycosignaling domains' (GSD). GSL-dependent adhesion occurs through clustered GSLs, and is coupled with activation of signal transducers (cSrc, Src family kinase, Rho A, etc.). Clustered GSLs involved in cell adhesion are recognized by GSLs on counterpart cells (carbohydrate-to-carbohydrate interaction), or by lectins (e.g., siglecs, selectins). Our major effort in utilization of GSLs in medical science has been for: (i) cancer diagnosis and treatment (vaccine development) based on tumor-associated GSLs and glycoepitopes; (ii) genetically defined phenotype for susceptibility to E. coli infection; (iii) clear identification of physiological E-selectin epitope (myeloglycan) expressed on neutrophils and myelocytes; (iv) characterization of sialyl poly-LacNAc epitopes recognized as male-specific antigens. Utilization of these GSLs or glycoepitopes in development of anti-adhesion approach to prevent tumor metastasis, infection, inflammation, or fertilization (i.e., contraceptive) is discussed. For each approach, development of mimetics of key GSLs or glycoepitopes is an important subject of future study.
This article was published in Glycoconj J
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