O-linked oligosaccharides of glycophorins A and B in erythrocytes of two individuals with the Tn polyagglutinability syndrome

Blood. 1992 Nov 1;80(9):2388-95.


Tn polyagglutinability syndrome is an acquired condition where erythrocytes express Tn neo-antigen and become susceptible to hemagglutination by the naturally occurring anti-Tn present in normal sera. Early studies had indicated that O-linked N-acetyl galactosamine was the sole serologic Tn determinant, but more recently O-linked NeuNAc alpha 2, 6GalNAc also has been implicated as a Tn antigen (sialosyl-Tn). However, none of these studies were performed on purified glycoproteins. In this report we examine oligosaccharides of glycophorins A and B purified from Tn erythrocytes of two affected individuals to establish how N- and O-linked saccharides differ from normal. Analysis of carbohydrate composition and treatment with N-glycanase showed that the Asn-linked unit of glycophorin A was not affected. O-linked oligosaccharides were obtained by beta-elimination in the presence of tritiated sodium borohydride. The reduced radiolabeled products were fractionated by Bio-Gel P-2 chromatography, and their structures were investigated by comparison with standards, by monosaccharide quantification, and by neuraminidases of known specificities. The results show that Tn glycophorins from both donors contain intact and truncated forms of trisaccharide and tetrasaccharide NeuNAc alpha 2,3Gal beta 1,3GalNAc and NeuNAc alpha 2,3Gal beta 1,3- (NeuNAc alpha 2,6)GalNAc usually present in glycophorins A and B. The truncated forms include the protein O-linked monosaccharide, GalNAc and disaccharide, NeuNAc alpha 2,6GalNAc (major isomer). The presence of intact glycans in the total population of Tn erythrocytes was confirmed by their susceptibility to T activation after treatment with neuraminidase. The proportion of the four species was not identical in glycophorins of these two donors but, in both, the truncated units predominated and the amount of the disaccharide was approximately one half of that of the monosaccharide. The data are consistent with alterations in UDPGal:GalNAc beta 1,3galactosyl transferase that may have multiple molecular origins and with induction of a specific GalNAc protein alpha 2,6 sialosyl transferase in Tn hematopoietic precursor cells. The molecular basis for these alterations awaits further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Glycophorins / chemistry*
  • Glycophorins / isolation & purification
  • Hemagglutination*
  • Hematologic Diseases / blood*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligosaccharides / blood
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry*
  • Oligosaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Syndrome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Glycophorins
  • Oligosaccharides