Glycosylation is a post-translational modification that is an essential element in cell signaling and neurodevelopmental pathway regulation. Glycan attachment can influence the tertiary structure and molecular interactions of glycosylated substrates, adding an additional layer of regulatory complexity to functional mechanisms underlying central cell biological processes. One type of enzyme-mediated glycan attachment, fucosylation, can mediate glycoprotein and glycolipid cell surface expression, trafficking, secretion, and quality control to modulate a variety of inter- and intracellular signaling cascades. Building on prior reports of glycosylation abnormalities and evidence of dysregulated glycosylation enzyme expression in schizophrenia, we examined the protein expression of 5 key fucose-modifying enzymes: GDP-fucose:protein O-fucosyltransferase 1 (POFUT1), GDP-fucose:protein O-fucosyltransferase 2 (POFUT2), fucosyltransferase 8 (FUT8), fucosyltransferase 11 (FUT11), and plasma α-l-fucosidase (FUCA2) in postmortem superior temporal gyrus of schizophrenia (N=16) and comparison (N=14) subjects. We also used the fucose binding protein, Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL), to assess α-1,6-fucosylated N-glycoprotein abundance in the same subjects. In schizophrenia, we found increased expression of POFUT2, a fucosyltransferase uniquely responsible for O-fucosylation of thrombospondin-like repeat domains that is involved in a non-canonical endoplasmic reticulum quality control pathway. We also found decreased expression of FUT8 in schizophrenia. Given that FUT8 is the only α-1,6-fucosyltransferase expressed in mammals, the concurrent decrease in AAL binding in schizophrenia, particularly evident for N-glycoproteins in the ~52-58kDa and ~60-70kDa molecular mass ranges, likely reflects a consequence of abnormal FUT8 expression in the disorder. Dysregulated FUT8 and POFUT2 expression could potentially explain a variety of molecular abnormalities in schizophrenia.
Keywords: Core fucose; FUT8; Glycosylation; Neuroglycobiology; O-fucosylation; POFUT2.
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