Lessons learned from clustering of fluorinated glycolipids on selectin ligand function in cell rolling

Biochemistry. 2006 Mar 7;45(9):2894-903. doi: 10.1021/bi052201r.


Selectin-induced leukocyte rolling along the endothelium is an essential step in the cellular immune response. Since clustering of binding epitopes is thought to be crucial for selectin-ligand interaction, we focused on requirements of ligand clusters in a flow chamber study. Neoglycolipids bearing the binding epitope sialyl Lewis X (sLeX) were used as artificial ligands in model membranes. sLeX ligands or matrix lipids or both were applied with partially fluorinated alkyl chains to increase the ligand cluster separation tendency. Cluster size, their inner structure, and separation distance were evaluated with high resolution by scanning force microscopy (SFM) and correlated with binding or rolling of E-selectin-expressing cells. Fluorination of only one component, sLeX ligand or matrix lipid, leads to a very high separation tendency and impeded cell rolling, although firm cell adhesion could be observed down to 0.005 mol % ligand concentration. As a sign of total immiscibility, cluster size increased with ligand concentration, and resulting excessive ligand densities within the clusters prevent cell rolling. Fluorination of both sLeX ligands and matrix created small clusters which could serve as rolling patches. Our results confirmed that cluster size and separation distance controlled by a certain miscibility of ligand and matrix as well as a sufficiently diluted ligand concentration within the clusters are necessary for cell rolling. Within this work, selectin ligand clustering and its ability to mediate cell rolling are presented as a balance between multivalency of binding and sufficient flexibility of the single epitopes. This might be helpful for better understanding the function of the natural selectin ligands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement
  • Cricetinae
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epitopes / metabolism
  • Fluorine / metabolism*
  • Glycolipids / chemistry
  • Glycolipids / physiology*
  • Leukocyte Rolling / physiology*
  • Ligands*
  • Lipids / physiology
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Selectins / physiology*


  • Epitopes
  • Glycolipids
  • Ligands
  • Lipids
  • Selectins
  • Fluorine