O-Glycans on cell surfaces play important roles in cell-cell, cell-matrix and receptor-ligand interaction. Therefore, glycan-based interactions are important for tissue regeneration and homeostasis. Free-living flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea, because of its robust regenerative potential, is of great interest in the field of stem cell biology and tissue regeneration. Nevertheless, information on the composition and structure of O-glycans in planaria is unknown. Using mass spectrometry and in silico approaches, we characterized the glycome and the related transcriptome of mucin-type O-glycans of planarian S. mediterranea. Mucin-type O-glycans were composed of multiple isomeric, methylated, and unusually extended mono- and disubstituted O-N-acetylgalactosamine structures. Extensions made of hexoses and 3-O-methyl hexoses were the glycoforms observed. From glycotranscriptomic analysis, 60 genes belonging to five distinct enzyme classes were identified to be involved in mucin-type O-glycan biosynthesis. These genes shared homology with those in other invertebrate systems. Although a majority of the genes involved in mucin-type O-glycan biosynthesis were highly expressed during organogenesis and in differentiated cells, a few select genes in each enzyme class were specifically enriched during early embryogenesis. Our results indicate a unique temporal and spatial role for mucin-type O-glycans during embryogenesis and organogenesis and in adulthood. In summary, this is the first report on O-glycans in planaria. This study expands the structural and biosynthetic possibilities in cellular glycosylation in the invertebrate glycome and provides a framework towards understanding the biological role of mucin-type O-glycans in tissue regeneration using planarians.
Keywords: GC–MS; MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry; ScRNAseq; flatworm; invertebrates.
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