A carbohydrate structural variant of MM glycoprotein (glycophorin A)

J Biol Chem. 1983 Oct 10;258(19):11537-45.


A variant of the MM glycoprotein (glycophorin A) was isolated from erythrocyte membranes of two individual donors, a mother (L.G.) and daughter (V.W.). This glycoprotein was found to be a carbohydrate variant in which, for both donors, certain O-glycosidically linked saccharides retained the core structure consisting of NeuAc(alpha 2,3)Gal(beta 1,3)GalNAc that is common to all O-linked saccharides of the MN glycoproteins, and, in addition, contained substituents, of varying chain lengths, on the primary carbinol of GalNAc. These saccharides were released from the polypeptide by beta-elimination in the presence of sodium borohydride, and aspects of their structure were investigated by glycosidase digestion and periodate oxidation. Thus, the smallest variant structure was deduced to be NeuAc(alpha 2,3)Gal(beta 1,3)[GlcNAc(beta 1,6)]H2GalNAc. The 6-O-linked GlcNAc appears to serve as the focus of further chain elongation reactions, involving alternate additions of Gal and GlcNAc residues and leading to the formation of several homologous structures. Two such structures, NeuAc(alpha 2,3)Gal(beta 1,3)[GlcNAc(beta 1,?) Gal(beta 1,3/4)GlcNAc(beta 1,6)]H2GalNAc and NeuAc(alpha 2,3) Gal(beta 1,3)[Gal(beta 1,3/4)GlcNAc(beta 1,6)]H2GalNAc were the predominant species present. A larger saccharide was also isolated and its partial sequence was determined to be Gal(beta 1,3/4)GlcNAc(beta 1,?)[Gal(beta 1,3/4)Glc-NAc(beta 1,?)] Gal(beta 1,3/4)GlcNAc(beta 1,6)[NeuAc(alpha 2,3)Gal-(beta 1,3)]H2GalNAc. Because the peptide portion of these glycoproteins contains two methionine residues, it was possible to isolate two CNBr glycopeptides from separate regions of the molecule, and to assess the distribution of these variant structures in the polypeptide. The saccharides were linked to about 2-3 Ser and/or Thr residues in the donor LG glycoprotein and one of the attachment sites was located within the CNBr glycooctapeptide representing the NH2 terminus. Considerable heterogeneity in saccharide structure was documented for this site, and it is likely that such heterogeneity occurs also at other sites. The variant saccharides bear structural similarities to the core region of O-linked saccharides of certain blood group-active mucins and ovarian cyst secretions, and to the outer sequences of N-linked carbohydrate units (I-, i-active) of the major glycoprotein of human erythrocytes, band 3. The structures of the variant saccharides suggest that they may be potential precursors of H blood group-active carbohydrates, present in varying degrees of maturity, and attached to an integral protein of erythrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / analysis*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Glycophorins / genetics*
  • Glycophorins / isolation & purification
  • Hemagglutination
  • Humans
  • Oligosaccharides / isolation & purification*
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Sialic Acids / analysis
  • Sialoglycoproteins / genetics*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Glycophorins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Sialic Acids
  • Sialoglycoproteins