Dynamic developmental elaboration of N-linked glycan complexity in the Drosophila melanogaster embryo

J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 23;282(12):9127-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M606711200. Epub 2007 Jan 29.


The structural diversity of glycoprotein N-linked oligosaccharides is determined by the expression and regulation of glycosyltransferase activities and by the availability of the appropriate acceptor/donor substrates. Cells in different tissues and in different developmental stages utilize these control points to manifest unique glycan expression patterns in response to their surroundings. The activity of a Toll-like receptor, called Tollo/Toll-8, induces a pattern of incompletely defined, but neural specific, glycan expression in the Drosophila embryo. Understanding the full extent of the changes in glycan expression that result from altered Tollo/Toll-8 signaling requires characterization of the complete N-linked glycan profile of both wild-type and mutant embryos. N-Linked glycans harvested from wild-type or mutant embryos were subjected to direct structural analysis by analytic and preparative high pressure liquid chromatography, by multidimensional mass spectrometry, and by exoglycosidase digestion, revealing a predominance of high mannose and paucimannose glycans. Di-, mono-, and nonfucosylated forms of hybrid, complex biantennary, and triantennary glycans account for 12% of the total wild-type glycan profile. Two sialylated glycans bearing N-acetylneuraminic acid were detected, the first direct demonstration of this modification in Drosophila. Glycan profiles change during normal development consistent with increasing alpha-mannosidase II and core fucosyl-transferase enzyme activities, and with decreasing activity of the Fused lobes processing hexosaminidase. In tollo/toll-8 mutants, a dramatic, expected loss of difucosylated glycans is accompanied by unexpected decreases in monofucosylated and nonfucosylated hybrid glycans and increases in some nonfucosylated paucimannose and biantennary glycans. Therefore, tollo/toll-8 signaling influences flux through several processing steps that affect the maturation of N-linked glycans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian*
  • Fucose / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mannose / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Mutation
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Time Factors
  • Toll-Like Receptor 8 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 8 / physiology*


  • Polysaccharides
  • Toll-Like Receptor 8
  • Fucose
  • Mannose