Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are composed of complex glycans linked to sphingosines and various fatty acid chains. Antibodies against several GSLs designated as stage-specific embryonic antigens (SSEAs), have been widely used to characterize differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells. In view of the cross-reactivities of these antibodies with multiple glycans, a few laboratories have employed advanced mass spectrometry (MS) technologies to define the dynamic changes of surface GSLs upon ES differentiation. However, the amphiphilic nature and heterogeneity of GSLs make them difficult to decipher. In our studies, systematic survey of GSL expression profiles in human ES cells and differentiated derivatives was conducted, primarily with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization MS (MALDI-MS) and MS/MS analyses. In addition to the well-known ES-specific markers, SSEA-3 and SSEA-4, several previously undisclosed globo- and lacto-series GSLs, including Gb4Cer, Lc4Cer, fucosyl Lc4Cer, Globo H, and disialyl Gb5Cer were identified in the undifferentiated human ES and induced pluripotent stem cells. Furthermore, during differentiation to embryoid body outgrowth, the core structures of GSLs switched from globo- and lacto- to ganglio-series. Lineage-specific differentiation was also marked by alterations of specific GSLs. During differentiation into neural progenitors, core structures shifted to primarily ganglio-series dominated by GD3. GSL patterns shifted to prominent expression of Gb4Cer with little SSEA-3 and- 4 or GD3 during endodermal differentiation. Several issues relevant to MS analysis and novel GSLs in ES cells were discussed. Finally, unique GSL signatures in ES and cancer cells are exploited in glycan-targeted anti-cancer immunotherapy and their mechanistic investigations were discussed using anti-GD2 mAb and Globo H as examples.
Glycoconjugate Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 22, 2016
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