N-glycans harboring the Lewis a epitope are expressed at the surface of plant cells

Plant J. 1997 Dec;12(6):1411-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.1997.12061411.x.


In plants, N-linked glycans are processed in the Golgi apparatus to complex-type N-glycans of limited size containing a beta(1,2)-xylose and/or an alpha(1,3)-fucose residue. Larger mono- and bi-antennary N-linked complex glycans have not often been described. This study has re-examined the structure of such plant N-linked glycans, and, through both immunological and structural data, it is shown that the antennae are composed of Lewis a (Le(a)) antigens, comprising the carbohydrate sequence Gal beta 1-3[Fuc alpha 1-4]GlcNAc. Furthermore, a fucosyltransferase activity involved in the biosynthesis of this antigen was detected in sycamore cells. This is the first characterization in plants of a Lewis antigen that is usually found on cell-surface glycoconjugates in mammals and involved in recognition and adhesion processes. Le(a)-containing N-linked glycans are widely distributed in plants and highly expressed at the cell surface, which may suggest a putative function in cell/cell communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Lewis X Antigen / chemistry*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / biosynthesis
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Trees / chemistry*
  • Trees / cytology


  • Lewis X Antigen
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polysaccharides