Human transferrin receptor contains o-linked oligosaccharides

Su Il Do, Caroline Enns, Richard D. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We have investigated the oligosaccharides in the human transferrin receptor from three different cell lines. During our studies on the structures of the N-linked oligosaccharides of the receptor, we discovered that the receptor contains O-linked oligosaccharides. This report describes the isolation and characterization of these O-linked oligosaccharides. Three different human cell lines - K562, A431, and BeWo - were grown in media containing either [2-3H] mannose or [6-3H]glucosamine. The newly synthesized and radiolabeled transferrin receptors were purified by immunoprecipitation from cell extracts and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The receptor was proteolytically digested or treated directly with mild base/borohydride. The released radiolabeled glycopeptides and oligosaccharides were separated by a variety of chromatographic techniques, and their structures were analyzed. The transferrin receptor from all three cell types contains O-linked oligosaccharides that are released from peptide by mild base/borohydride treatment. The receptor from K562 cells contains at least one O-linked oligosaccharide having two sialic acid residues and a core structure of the disaccharide galactose-N-acetylgalactosamine. In contrast, the O-linked oligosaccharides in the transferring receptors from both A431 and BeWo cell lines are not as highly sialylated and were identified as both the neutral disaccharide galactose-N-acetylgalactosamine and the neutral monosaccharide N-acetylgalactosamine. In addition, the receptors from all three cell lines contain both complex-type and high mannose-type N-linked oligosaccharides. The complex-type chains in the receptor from A431 cells have properties of blood group A antigens, whereas oligosaccharides in receptors from both BeWo and K562 cells lack these properties. These results are interesting since both A431 and BeWo cells, but not K562 cells, are positive for blood group A antigens. Thus, our results demonstrate that the human transferrin receptor contains O-linked oligosaccharides and that there are differences in the structures of both the O-linked and complex-type N-linked oligosaccharides on the receptors synthesized by different cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-125
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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