Lectins, plant proteins that bind specific saccharide determinants, have been utilized to examine the effect of neuraminidase digestion on the structure and/or expression of oligosaccharide moieties present at the periphery of Novikoff ascites hepatoma cells. Five lectins were utilized: concanavalin A (Con A), specific for α-d-manno- or α-d-glucopyranosyl residues; wheat germ agglutinin, specific for 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-glucopyranosyl residues; Ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCAI), specific for d-glucopyranosyl residues; R. communis agglutinin II (RCAII), specific for d-galacto- or 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-galactopyranosyl residues; and soybean agglutinin, specific for 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-galactopyranosyl residues. Neuraminidase treatment of Novikoff cells did not alter their agglutination by Con A or wheat germ agglutinin. Similar treatment produced only a 2-fold increase in their agglutination by RCAI but a 12-fold increase in their agglutination by RCAII, indicating that 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-galactopyranosyl residues become expressed upon neuraminidase treatment. This conclusion was confirmed by the observation that neuraminidase-treated Novikoff cells acquired agglutinability by soybean agglutinin. Binding studies using ferritin-conjugated RCAII indicated that neuraminidase treatment exposed cryptic cell surface receptors for RCAII. To ascertain the role of cell surface glycoproteins in lectin-induced agglutination of Novikoff cells, glycopeptides cleaved from the cell surface by papain were assayed for lectin receptor activity. The cell surface glycopeptides exhibited receptor activity for Con A, wheat germ agglutinin and RCAI but not for RCAII and soybean agglutinin. A cell surface macrosialoglycopeptide fraction, resolved by gel filtration and ion-exchange chromatography, possessed a major portion of the Con A and RCAI receptor activity.

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Supported by grants from The Robert A. Welch Foundation (G-354), The National Cancer Institute (CA-11710), The Paul and Mary Haas Foundation, and The George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation and NIH General Research Grant 5-S01-RR05511.

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