Surface alpha 2-3- and alpha 2-6-sialylation of human monocytes and derived dendritic cells and its influence on endocytosis

Glycoconj J. 2008 Apr;25(3):259-68. doi: 10.1007/s10719-007-9092-6. Epub 2007 Dec 13.


Several glycoconjugates are involved in the immune response. Sialic acid is frequently the glycan terminal sugar and it may modulate immune interactions. Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells with high endocytic capacity and a central role in immune regulation. On this basis, DCs derived from monocytes (mo-DC) are utilised in immunotherapy, though many features are ignored and their use is still limited. We analyzed the surface sialylated glycans expressed during human mo-DC generation. This was monitored by lectin binding and analysis of sialyltransferases (ST) at the mRNA level and by specific enzymatic assays. We showed that alpha 2-3-sialylated O-glycans and alpha 2-6- and alpha 2-3-sialylated N-glycans are present in monocytes and their expression increases during mo-DC differentiation. Three main ST genes are committed with this rearrangement: ST6Gal1 is specifically involved in the augmented alpha 2-6-sialylated N-glycans; ST3Gal1 contributes for the alpha2-3-sialylation of O-glycans, particularly T antigens; and ST3Gal4 may contribute for the increased alpha2-3-sialylated N-glycans. Upon mo-DC maturation, ST6Gal1 and ST3Gal4 are downregulated and ST3Gal1 is altered in a stimulus-dependent manner. We also observed that removing surface sialic acid of immature mo-DC by neuraminidase significantly decreased its endocytic capacity, while it increased in monocytes. Our results indicate the STs expression modulates the increased expression of surface sialylated structures during mo-DC generation, which is probably related with changes in cell mechanisms. The ST downregulation after mo-DC maturation probably results in a decreased sialylation or sialylated glycoconjugates involved in the endocytosis, contributing to the downregulation of one or more antigen-uptake mechanisms specific of mo-DC.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Endocytosis*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / cytology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*
  • Sialyltransferases / genetics
  • Sialyltransferases / metabolism


  • Sialyltransferases
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid