Modification of the erythrocyte surface in rats bearing Yoshida ascites sarcoma is brought about by a tumour variant of alpha2-macroglobulin

Biochem J. 1997 Mar 1;322 ( Pt 2)(Pt 2):379-84. doi: 10.1042/bj3220379.


Erythrocytes from the circulation of rats bearing Yoshida ascites sarcoma exhibit higher concanavalin A (ConA)-mediated agglutinability than those from normal animals. A tetrameric glycoprotein of subunit molecular mass 170 kDa, purified from the cell-free ascites fluid, was found to confer higher ConA-mediated agglutinability on erythrocytes in vitro. An antiserum to this tumour-derived protein failed to detect any cross-reactive component in normal rat plasma or in any of the normal tissues examined. An immunoreactive protein was, however, detected in blood plasma when the acute-phase reaction was stimulated by injection of turpentine. The cross-reactive acute-phase protein was purified by ConA-affinity, gel-filtration and ion-exchange chromatography, and identified as alpha2-macroglobulin. The acute-phase protein and the protein obtained from the ascites fluid have identical or very similar native and subunit molecular masses, subunit arrangement and pI. They both are able to inhibit trypsin and, as a consequence, acquire greater mobility in native PAGE. In addition, the two proteins bind to rat erythrocytes non-specifically, and in similar amounts. However, despite these similarities, the acute-phase protein is unable to enhance the agglutinability of erythrocytes. The two proteins differ in their carbohydrate content, but this differential glycosylation is not the cause of the difference in their surface modification activity. The chemically deglycosylated proteins show a small but consistent difference in the size of their polypeptides. Their tryptic peptide maps, although largely similar, show some differences, as do their amino acid compositions. It is probable that the proteins are independent members of the same (alpha-macroglobulin) family. The rat embryo is also found to express a soluble protein consisting of a 170 kDa polypeptide that cross-reacts with the antibody to the tumour-derived protein. The purified embryo protein is able to alter the ConA-mediated agglutinability of erythrocytes in vitro, and also yields a tryptic peptide map that is identical to that of the tumour-derived protein. The modification of the host cell surface in the tumour-bearing rats is thus caused by what appears to be a tumour (oncofetal?) variant of alpha2-macroglobulin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination / drug effects
  • Amino Sugars / analysis
  • Animals
  • Ascites / metabolism*
  • Concanavalin A / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Genetic Variation
  • Monosaccharides / analysis
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / analysis
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sarcoma, Yoshida / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / genetics
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / metabolism*
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / pharmacology


  • Amino Sugars
  • Monosaccharides
  • alpha-Macroglobulins
  • Concanavalin A
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid