In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (26)

Articles by Nissi M. Varki in JoVE

Other articles by Nissi M. Varki on PubMed

Synergistic Effects of L- and P-selectin in Facilitating Tumor Metastasis Can Involve Non-mucin Ligands and Implicate Leukocytes As Enhancers of Metastasis

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Feb, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11854515

P-selectin facilitates human carcinoma metastasis in immunodeficient mice by mediating early interactions of platelets with bloodborne tumor cells via their cell surface mucins, and this process can be blocked by heparin [Borsig, L., Wong, R., Feramisco, J., Nadeau, D. R., Varki, N. M. & Varki, A. (2001) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98, 3352-3357]. Here we show similar findings with a murine adenocarcinoma in syngeneic immunocompetent mice but involving a different P-selectin ligand, possibly a sulfated glycolipid. Thus, metastatic spread can be facilitated by tumor cell selectin ligands other than mucins. Surprisingly, L-selectin expressed on endogenous leukocytes also facilitates metastasis in both the syngeneic and xenogeneic (T and B lymphocyte deficient) systems. PL-selectin double deficient mice show that the two selectins work synergistically. Although heparin can block both P- and L-selectin in vitro, the in vivo effect of a single heparin dose given before tumor cells seems to be completely accounted for by blockade of P-selectin function. Thus, L-selectin on neutrophils, monocytes, and/or NK cells has a role in facilitating metastasis, acting beyond the early time points wherein P-selectin mediates interactions of platelet with tumor cells.

Heparin Inhibition of Selectin-mediated Interactions During the Hematogenous Phase of Carcinoma Metastasis: Rationale for Clinical Studies in Humans

Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis. Feb, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11885026

Classic studies indicate that the formation of tumor cell-platelet complexes in the blood stream is important in facilitating the metastatic process. Metastasis in animal models can be inhibited by heparin, and retrospective analyses of heparin use in human cancer have shown promise. However, most follow-up human studies using vitamin K antagonists have failed, and conclusive proof for other previously proposed mechanisms of heparin action is lacking. Carcinoma progression and metastasis are associated with overexpression of sialylated fucosylated mucins. Structurally similar molecules happen to be natural ligands for vascular adhesion molecules called the selectins. Heparin also happens to be a good inhibitor of P-selectin, which is expressed on activated platelets or endothelial cells. We have found that heparin blocks P-selectin-mediated interactions of endogenous platelets with sialylated fucosylated mucins on circulating carcinoma cells and that this reduces tumor cell survival. The use of more specific and selective P-selectin inhibitors will some day help to dissect the relative importance of this mechanism of heparin action in cancer. Meanwhile, we suggest that the failure of vitamin K antagonists to improve cancer prognosis should be ignored and that heparin therapy should be immediately revisited under this new paradigm. Unlike the suggestions in most previous studies, we propose that heparin use should be reexplored specifically during the interval from initial visualization of a primary tumor until just after its definitive surgical removal. A suggested clinical trial is outlined.

Cloning and Characterization of Human Siglec-11. A Recently Evolved Signaling Molecule That Can Interact with SHP-1 and SHP-2 and is Expressed by Tissue Macrophages, Including Brain Microglia

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Jul, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11986327

Siglecs are sialic acid-recognizing animal lectins of the immunoglobulin superfamily. We have cloned and characterized a novel human molecule, Siglec-11, that belongs to the subgroup of CD33/Siglec-3-related Siglecs. As with others in this subgroup, the cytosolic domain of Siglec-11 is phosphorylated at tyrosine residue(s) upon pervanadate treatment of cells and then recruits the protein-tyrosine phosphatases SHP-1 and SHP-2. However, Siglec-11 has several novel features relative to the other CD33/Siglec-3-related Siglecs. First, it binds specifically to alpha2-8-linked sialic acids. Second, unlike other CD33/Siglec-3-related Siglecs, Siglec-11 was not found on peripheral blood leukocytes. Instead, we observed its expression on macrophages in various tissues, such as liver Kupffer cells. Third, it was also expressed on brain microglia, thus becoming the second Siglec to be found in the nervous system. Fourth, whereas the Siglec-11 gene is on human chromosome 19, it lies outside the previously described CD33/Siglec-3-related Siglec cluster on this chromosome. Fifth, analyses of genome data bases indicate that Siglec-11 has no mouse ortholog and that it is likely to be the last canonical human Siglec to be reported. Finally, although Siglec-11 shows marked sequence similarity to human Siglec-10 in its extracellular domain, the cytosolic tail appears only distantly related. Analysis of genomic regions surrounding the Siglec-11 gene suggests that it is actually a chimeric molecule that arose from relatively recent gene duplication and recombination events, involving the extracellular domain of a closely related ancestral Siglec gene (which subsequently became a pseudogene) and a transmembrane and cytosolic tail derived from another ancestral Siglec.

Genetically Altered Mice with Different Sialyltransferase Deficiencies Show Tissue-specific Alterations in Sialylation and Sialic Acid 9-O-acetylation

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Sep, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12068010

Glycan chains on glycoconjugates traversing the Golgi apparatus are often terminated by sialic acid residues, which can also be 9-O-acetylated. This process involves competition between multiple Golgi enzymes. Expression levels of Golgi enzyme mRNAs do not always correlate with enzyme activity, which in turn cannot accurately predict glycan sequences found on cell surfaces. Here we examine the cell type-specific expression of terminal glycans in tissues of normal mice in comparison with animals deficient in ST6Gal-I (transfers alpha2-6-linked sialic acid to Galbeta1-4GlcNAc) or ST3Gal-I (transfers alpha2-3-linked sialic acid to Galbeta1-3GalNAc). Tissues of ST6Gal-I null mice showed minimal binding of an alpha2-6-sialic acid-specific lectin, indicating that no other enzyme generates Siaalpha2-6Galbeta1-4GlcNAc and that Siaalpha2-6GalNAc (sialyl-Tn) is rare in mice. However, exposed Galbeta1-4GlcNAc termini were only moderately increased, indicating that these can be partially capped by other enzymes. Indeed, Galalpha1-3Galbeta1-4GlcNAc and Fucalpha1-2Galbeta1-4GlcNAc termini were enhanced in some tissues. Many tissues of ST3Gal-I null animals showed increases in Galbeta1-3GalNAc termini, and some increases in poly-N-acetyllactosamines. However, overall expression of alpha2-3-linked sialic acid was selectively reduced only in a few instances, indicating that other ST3Gal enzymes can generate this linkage in most tissues. Highly selective losses of 9-O-acetylation of sialic acid residues were also observed, with ST6Gal-I deficiency causing loss on endothelium and ST3Gal-I deficiency giving a marked decrease on CD4(+) lymphocytes. These data demonstrate selective regulation of sialylation and 9-O-acetylation, point to cell types with potential physiological defects in null animals, and show in vivo evidence for competition between Golgi enzymes.

Human-specific Regulation of Alpha 2-6-linked Sialic Acids

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Nov, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14500706

Many microbial pathogens and toxins recognize animal cells via cell surface sialic acids (Sias) that are alpha 2-3- or alpha 2-8-linked to the underlying glycan chain. Human influenza A/B viruses are unusual in preferring alpha 2-6-linked Sias, undergoing a switch from alpha 2-3 linkage preference during adaptation from animals to humans. This correlates with the expression of alpha 2-6-linked Sias on ciliated human airway epithelial target cells and of alpha 2-3-linked Sias on secreted soluble airway mucins, which are unable to inhibit virus binding. Given several known differences in Sia biology between humans and apes, we asked whether this pattern of airway epithelial Sia linkages is also human-specific. Indeed, we show that since the last common ancestor with apes, humans underwent a concerted bidirectional switch in alpha 2-6-linked Sia expression between airway epithelial cell surfaces and secreted mucins. This can explain why the chimpanzee appears relatively resistant to experimental infection with human Influenza viruses. Other tissues showed additional examples of human-specific increases or decreases in alpha 2-6-linked Sia expression and only one example of a change specific to certain great apes. Furthermore, while human and great ape leukocytes both express alpha 2-6-linked Sias, only human erythrocytes have markedly up-regulated expression. These cell type-specific changes in alpha 2-6-Sia expression during human evolution represent another example of a human-specific change in Sia biology. Because the data set involves multiple great apes, we can also conclude that Sia linkage expression patterns can be conserved during millions of years of evolution within some vertebrate taxa while undergoing sudden major changes in other closely related ones.

Increase in Expression of the Copper Transporter ATP7A During Platinum Drug-based Treatment is Associated with Poor Survival in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Clinical Cancer Research : an Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Dec, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14676106

The Cu efflux transporter ATP7A is overexpressed in some cisplatin-resistant ovarian carcinoma cell lines. We examined the expression of ATP7A in the major normal human organs and in several types of human malignancies and sought to determine whether ATP7A expression changed during treatment of ovarian carcinomas with Pt-containing regimens.

Disruption of Forkhead Transcription Factor (FOXO) Family Members in Mice Reveals Their Functional Diversification

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Mar, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 14978268

Genetic analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans has uncovered essential roles for DAF-16 in longevity, metabolism, and reproduction. The mammalian orthologs of DAF-16, the closely-related FOXO subclass of forkhead transcription factors (FKHR/FOXO1, FKHRL1/FOXO3a, and AFX/FOXO4), also have important roles in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and stress responses in vitro, but their in vivo physiological roles are largely unknown. To elucidate their role in normal development and physiology, we disrupted each of the Foxo genes in mice. Foxo1-null embryos died on embryonic day 10.5 as a consequence of incomplete vascular development. Foxo1-null embryonic and yolk sac vessels were not well developed at embryonic day 9.5, and Foxo1 expression was found in a variety of embryonic vessels, suggesting a crucial role of this transcription factor in vascular formation. On the other hand, both Foxo3a- and Foxo4-null mice were viable and grossly indistinguishable from their littermate controls, indicating dispensability of these two members of the Foxo transcription factor family for normal vascular development. Foxo3a-null females showed age-dependent infertility and had abnormal ovarian follicular development. In contrast, histological analyses of Foxo4-null mice did not identify any consistent abnormalities. These results demonstrate that the physiological roles of Foxo genes are functionally diverse in mammals.

Clearance of Citrobacter Rodentium Requires B Cells but Not Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA) or IgM Antibodies

Infection and Immunity. Jun, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15155635

Citrobacter rodentium, a murine model pathogen for human enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, predominantly colonizes the lumen and mucosal surface of the colon and cecum and causes crypt hyperplasia and mucosal inflammation. Mice infected with C. rodentium develop a secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) response, but the role of B cells or secretory antibodies in host defense is unknown. To address this question, we conducted oral C. rodentium infections in mice lacking B cells, IgA, secreted IgM, polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR), or J chain. Normal mice showed peak bacterial numbers in colon and feces at 1 week and bacterial eradication after 3 to 4 weeks. B-cell-deficient mice were equally susceptible initially but could not control infection subsequently. Tissue responses showed marked differences, as infection of normal mice was accompanied by transient crypt hyperplasia and mucosal inflammation in the colon and cecum at 2 but not 6 weeks, whereas B-cell-deficient mice had few mucosal changes at 2 weeks but severe epithelial hyperplasia with ulcerations and mucosal inflammation at 6 weeks. The functions of B cells were not mediated by secretory antibodies, since mice lacking IgA or secreted IgM or proteins required for their transport into the lumen, pIgR or J chain, cleared C. rodentium normally. Nonetheless, systemic administration of immune sera reduced bacterial numbers significantly in normal and pIgR-deficient mice, and depletion of IgG abrogated this effect. These results indicate that host defense against C. rodentium depends on B cells and IgG antibodies but does not require production or transepithelial transport of IgA or secreted IgM.

A Fluorescent Orthotopic Mouse Model for Reliable Measurement and Genetic Modulation of Human Neuroblastoma Metastasis

Clinical & Experimental Metastasis. 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15679054

Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial solid tumor of infancy and childhood, and majority of patients die from the metastatic disease. Orthotopic xenograft mouse models are valuable tools for improving our understanding and control of neuroblastoma metastasis, because they readily represent genetic diversity and allow spontaneous metastasis. Intra-adrenal injection is commonly used for establishing the orthotopic animal models since human neuroblastoma frequently originates in the adrenal gland. However, it is unclear whether the metastatic potential of neuroblastoma can be reliably determined in adrenally-injected mice because their gland size is so small. In this study, we developed and characterized a fluorescent orthotopic xenograft animal model of NB69-derived human neuroblastoma. By comparing animals receiving adrenal injection and adrenal overlay, with the latter mimicking injection spillover, we found that the metastatic potential of neuroblastoma can be reliably determined in animal lungs. Furthermore, the lung metastasis can be genetically modulated in these animals. The results also show that the expression of Renilla green fluorescent protein (GFP) was exceptionally stable in NB69 cells, allowing rapid and sensitive detection of lung metastases at the macroscopic level. Additional features of our model include 100% tumor take, a 1-week tumor latency, resemblance to tumor behaviors in neuroblastoma patients, and the ability to monitor the expression of a gene of interest with GFP. This animal model of human neuroblastoma will be useful for studying genes involved in the metastatic process and for evaluating anti-metastasis agents in pre-clinical trials.

Combining Parenting and a Science Career

Science (New York, N.Y.). Mar, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15778202

Combining Parenting and a Science Career

Science (New York, N.Y.). Mar, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15779114

A Human-specific Gene in Microglia

Science (New York, N.Y.). Sep, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16151003

Recent studies have shown multiple differences between humans and apes in sialic acid (Sia) biology, including Siglecs (Sia-recognizing-Ig-superfamily lectins). Comparisons with the chimpanzee genome indicate that human SIGLEC11 emerged through human-specific gene conversion by an adjacent pseudogene. Conversion involved 5 cent untranslated sequences and the Sia-recognition domain. This human protein shows reduced binding relative to the ancestral form but recognizes oligosialic acids, which are enriched in the brain. SIGLEC11 is expressed in human but not in chimpanzee brain microglia. Further studies will determine if this event was related to the evolution of Homo.

L-selectin Facilitation of Metastasis Involves Temporal Induction of Fut7-dependent Ligands at Sites of Tumor Cell Arrest

Cancer Research. Feb, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16452210

Hematogenous carcinoma metastasis is supported by aggregated platelets and leukocytes, forming tumor cell emboli. Early tumor cell-platelet interactions can be mediated by P-selectin binding to tumor cell surface ligands and this process is blocked by heparin. We previously showed that L-selectin deficiency also attenuates experimental metastasis. However, the mechanisms and timing of L-selectin action remained unknown. Here, we study how L-selectin facilitates establishment of pulmonary metastatic foci in syngeneic mice by using experimental metastasis to time events following entry of tumor cells into the bloodstream. Although L-selectin deficiency did not affect platelet aggregation or initial tumor cell embolization, the association of leukocytes with tumor cells was reduced and tumor cell survival was diminished 24 hours later. Temporal inhibition of L-selectin by a function-blocking antibody reduced metastasis. Moreover, although selectin blockade by heparin 6 to 18 hours after tumor cell injection was synergistic with P-selectin deficiency in reducing metastasis, there was no further effect in L-selectin-deficient animals. Thus, heparin apparently works at these time points primarily by blocking L-selectin. Endogenous L-selectin ligands were concomitantly induced adjacent to established intravascular tumor cell emboli in a similar time window when leukocytes were also present. Metastasis was attenuated in mice missing these induced endogenous L-selectin ligands due to fucosyltransferase-7 deficiency. Thus, L-selectin facilitation of metastasis progression involves leukocyte-endothelial interactions at sites of intravascular arrest supported by local induction of L-selectin ligands via fucosyltransferase-7. These data provide the first explanation for how leukocyte L-selectin facilitates tumor metastasis.

Expression of the Human Copper Influx Transporter 1 in Normal and Malignant Human Tissues

The Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry : Official Journal of the Histochemistry Society. Sep, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16709730

The major copper influx transporter, copper transporter 1 (hCTR1), controls the cellular accumulation of cisplatin in mammalian cells. The goal of this study was to determine the pattern of hCTR1 expression in normal and malignant human tissues. Tissue arrays were stained with an antibody specific for hCTR1 using standard immunohistochemical techniques. Particularly strong staining was noted in the alpha cells of the pancreatic islets, enteroendocrine cells of the gastric mucosa and bronchioles, C cells of the thyroid, and a subset of cells in the anterior pituitary. Frequency and intensity of hCTR1 staining in malignant tissues reflected the levels found in their normal tissue counterparts. For example, neither normal prostate nor prostate cancers expressed hCTR1, whereas it was commonly expressed in both normal colonic epithelium and in colon carcinomas. Strong staining was observed in a limited number of cases of carcinoid tumors, Ewing's sarcoma, and undifferentiated carcinomas. Although all tissues require copper, expression of hCTR1 was highly variable among normal tissues and among the major human malignancies, with the highest levels found in enteroendocrine cells. No hCTR1 expression was found in several common types of cancer, suggesting that hCTR1 expression is not commonly enhanced by transformation.

Diversity in Cell Surface Sialic Acid Presentations: Implications for Biology and Disease

Laboratory Investigation; a Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology. Sep, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17632542

Sialic acids (Sias) are typically found as terminal monosaccharides attached to cell surface glycoconjugates. They play many important roles in many physiological and pathological processes, including microbe binding that leads to infections, regulation of the immune response, the progression and spread of human malignancies and in certain aspects of human evolution. This review will provide some examples of these diverse roles of Sias and briefly address immunohistochemical approaches to their detection.

Alpha 2-6-Linked Sialic Acids on N-glycans Modulate Carcinoma Differentiation in Vivo

Cancer Research. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18199532

Sialic acids on vertebrate cell surfaces mediate many biological roles. Altered expression of certain sialic acid types or their linkages can have prognostic significance in human cancer. A classic but unexplained example is enhanced alpha2-6-sialylation on N-glycans resulting from overexpression of the Golgi enzyme beta-galactoside:alpha2-6-sialyltransferase (ST6Gal-I). Previous data supporting a role for the resulting Sia alpha 2-3Gal beta 1-4GlcNAc (Sia6LacNAc) structure in tumor biology were based on in vitro studies in transfected carcinoma cells, in which increased Sia6LacNAc on beta1-integrins enhanced their binding to ligands, and stimulated cell motility. Here, we examine for the first time the in vivo role of the ST6Gal-I enzyme in the growth and differentiation of spontaneous mammary cancers in mice transgenic for a mouse mammary tumor virus promoter-driven polyomavirus middle T antigen, a tumor in which beta1-integrin function is important for tumorigenesis and in maintaining the proliferative state of tumor cells. Tumors induced in St6gal1-null animals were more differentiated compared with those in the wild-type background, both by histologic analysis and by protein expression profiles. Furthermore, we show the St6gal1-null tumors have selectively altered expression of genes associated with focal adhesion signaling and have decreased phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase, a downstream target of beta1-integrins. This first in vivo evidence for a role of ST6Gal-I in tumor progression was confirmed using a novel approach, which conditionally restored St6gal1 in cell lines derived from the null tumors. These findings indicate a role for ST6Gal-I as a mediator of tumor progression, with its expression causing a less differentiated phenotype, via enhanced beta1-integrin function.

Incorporation of a Non-human Glycan Mediates Human Susceptibility to a Bacterial Toxin

Nature. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18971931

AB(5) toxins comprise an A subunit that corrupts essential eukaryotic cell functions, and pentameric B subunits that direct target-cell uptake after binding surface glycans. Subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB) is an AB(5) toxin secreted by Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC), which causes serious gastrointestinal disease in humans. SubAB causes haemolytic uraemic syndrome-like pathology in mice through SubA-mediated cleavage of BiP/GRP78, an essential endoplasmic reticulum chaperone. Here we show that SubB has a strong preference for glycans terminating in the sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), a monosaccharide not synthesized in humans. Structures of SubB-Neu5Gc complexes revealed the basis for this specificity, and mutagenesis of key SubB residues abrogated in vitro glycan recognition, cell binding and cytotoxicity. SubAB specificity for Neu5Gc was confirmed using mouse tissues with a human-like deficiency of Neu5Gc and human cell lines fed with Neu5Gc. Despite lack of Neu5Gc biosynthesis in humans, assimilation of dietary Neu5Gc creates high-affinity receptors on human gut epithelia and kidney vasculature. This, and the lack of Neu5Gc-containing body fluid competitors in humans, confers susceptibility to the gastrointestinal and systemic toxicities of SubAB. Ironically, foods rich in Neu5Gc are the most common source of STEC contamination. Thus a bacterial toxin's receptor is generated by metabolic incorporation of an exogenous factor derived from food.

Evidence for a Human-specific Mechanism for Diet and Antibody-mediated Inflammation in Carcinoma Progression

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 19017806

Patients with cancer have circulating heterophile antibodies that agglutinate animal red cells via recognition of the mammalian cell surface sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), which was long considered an oncofetal antigen in humans. However, humans are genetically deficient in Neu5Gc production and instead metabolically accumulate Neu5Gc from dietary sources, particularly red meats and milk products. Moreover, mice with a human-like defect showed no alternate pathway for Neu5Gc synthesis and even normal humans express anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. We show here that human tumors accumulate Neu5Gc that is covalently attached to multiple classes of glycans. The paradox of human tumor Neu5Gc accumulation in the face of circulating anti-Neu5Gc antibodies was hypothesized to be due to facilitation of tumor progression by the resulting low-grade chronic inflammation. Indeed, murine tumors expressing human-like levels of Neu5Gc show accelerated growth in syngeneic mice with a human-like Neu5Gc deficiency, coincident with the induction of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies and increased infiltration of inflammatory cells. Transfer of polyclonal monospecific syngeneic mouse anti-Neu5Gc serum also enhanced growth of transplanted syngeneic tumors bearing human-like levels of Neu5Gc, with tumors showing evidence for antibody deposition, enhanced angiogenesis and chronic inflammation. These effects were suppressed by a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, a drug type known to reduce human carcinoma risk. Finally, affinity-purified human anti-Neu5Gc antibodies also accelerate growth of Neu5Gc-containing tumors in Neu5Gc-deficient mice. Taken together, the data suggest that the human propensity to develop diet-related carcinomas is contributed to by local chronic inflammation, resulting from interaction of metabolically-accumulated dietary Neu5Gc with circulating anti-Neu5Gc antibodies.

Sensitive and Specific Detection of the Non-human Sialic Acid N-glycolylneuraminic Acid in Human Tissues and Biotherapeutic Products

PloS One. 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19156207

Humans are genetically defective in synthesizing the common mammalian sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), but can metabolically incorporate it from dietary sources (particularly red meat and milk) into glycoproteins and glycolipids of human tumors, fetuses and some normal tissues. Metabolic incorporation of Neu5Gc from animal-derived cells and medium components also results in variable contamination of molecules and cells intended for human therapies. These Neu5Gc-incorporation phenomena are practically significant, because normal humans can have high levels of circulating anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. Thus, there is need for the sensitive and specific detection of Neu5Gc in human tissues and biotherapeutic products. Unlike monoclonal antibodies that recognize Neu5Gc only in the context of underlying structures, chicken immunoglobulin Y (IgY) polyclonal antibodies can recognize Neu5Gc in broader contexts. However, prior preparations of such antibodies (including our own) suffered from some non-specificity, as well as some cross-reactivity with the human sialic acid N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac).

Molecular Basis of Metastasis

The New England Journal of Medicine. Apr, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19369678

A Dietary Non-human Sialic Acid May Facilitate Hemolytic-uremic Syndrome

Kidney International. Jul, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19387473

Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a systemic disease characterized by microvascular endothelial damage, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys. A major cause of HUS is Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) infection. In addition to Shiga toxin, additional STEC virulence factors may contribute to HUS. One is the newly discovered subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB), which is highly toxic to eukaryotic cells, and when injected intraperitoneally into mice causes pathology resembling that associated with human HUS. Recent data show that SubAB exhibits a strong preference for glycans terminating in alpha2-3-linked N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), a sialic acid that humans are unable to synthesize, because we genetically lack the necessary enzyme. However, Neu5Gc can still be found on human cells due to metabolic incorporation from the diet. Dietary incorporation happens to be highest in human endothelium and to a lesser extent in the intestinal epithelium, the two affected cell types in STEC-induced HUS. Mammalian-derived foods such as red meat and dairy products appear to be the primary source of dietary Neu5Gc. Ironically, these are also common sources of STEC contamination. Taken together, these findings suggest a 'two-hit' process in the pathogenesis of human SubAB-induced disease. First, humans eat Neu5Gc-rich food, leading to incorporation of Neu5Gc on the surfaces of endothelial and intestinal cells. Second, when exposed to a SubAB-producing STEC strain, the toxin produced would be able to bind to the intestinal epithelial cells, perhaps causing acute gastrointestinal symptoms, and eventually damaging endothelial cells in other organs like the kidney, thereby causing HUS.

Evidence for a Novel Human-specific Xeno-auto-antibody Response Against Vascular Endothelium

Blood. Dec, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19828701

Humans are genetically unable to synthesize the common mammalian sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). However, Neu5Gc can be metabolically incorporated and covalently expressed on cultured human cell surfaces. Meanwhile, humans express varying and sometimes high titers of polyclonal anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. Here, a survey of human tissues by immunohistochemistry with both a monospecific chicken anti-Neu5Gc antibody and with affinity-purified human anti-Neu5Gc antibodies demonstrates endothelial expression of Neu5Gc, likely originating from Neu5Gc-rich foods like red meats. We hypothesized that the combination of Neu5Gc incorporation and anti-Neu5Gc antibodies can induce endothelial activation. Indeed, the incubation of high-titer human sera with Neu5Gc-fed endothelial cells led to Neu5Gc-dependent antibody binding, complement deposition, endothelial activation, selectin expression, increased cytokine secretion, and monocyte binding. The proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha also selectively enhanced human anti-Neu5Gc antibody reactivity. Anti-Neu5Gc antibodies affinity-purified from human serum also directed Neu5Gc-dependent complement deposition onto cultured endothelial cells. These data indicate a novel human-specific mechanism in which Neu5Gc-rich foods deliver immunogenic Neu5Gc to the endothelium, giving anti-Neu5Gc antibody- and complement-dependent activation, and potentially contributing to human vascular pathologies. In the case of atherosclerosis, Neu5Gc is present both in endothelium overlying plaques and in subendothelial regions, providing multiple pathways for accelerating inflammation in this disease.

The ROCK Inhibitor Y-27632 Improves Recovery of Human Embryonic Stem Cells After Fluorescence-activated Cell Sorting with Multiple Cell Surface Markers

PloS One. 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20730054

Due to the inherent sensitivity of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to manipulations, the recovery and survival of hESCs after fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) can be low. Additionally, a well characterized and robust methodology for performing FACS on hESCs using multiple-cell surface markers has not been described. The p160-Rho-associated coiled kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, Y-27632, previously has been identified as enhancing survival of hESCs upon single-cell dissociation, as well as enhancing recovery from cryopreservation. Here we examined the application of Y-27632 to hESCs after FACS to improve survival in both feeder-dependent and feeder-independent growth conditions.

Biomedical Differences Between Human and Nonhuman Hominids: Potential Roles for Uniquely Human Aspects of Sialic Acid Biology

Annual Review of Pathology. 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21073341

Although humans are genetically very similar to the evolutionarily related nonhuman hominids (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans), comparative studies suggest a surprising number of uniquely human differences in the incidence and/or severity of biomedical conditions. Some differences are due to anatomical changes that occurred during human evolution. However, many cannot be explained either by these changes or by known environmental factors. Because chimpanzees were long considered models for human disease, it is important to be aware of these differences, which appear to have been deemphasized relative to similarities. We focus on the pathophysiology and pathobiology of biomedical conditions that appear unique to humans, including several speculative possibilities that require further study. We pay particular attention to the possible contributions of uniquely human changes in the biology of cell-surface sialic acids and the proteins that recognize them. We also discuss the metabolic incorporation of a diet-derived nonhuman sialic acid, which generates a novel xeno-autoantigen reaction, and chronic inflammation known as xenosialitis.

Ptpn11/Shp2 Acts As a Tumor Suppressor in Hepatocellular Carcinogenesis

Cancer Cell. May, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21575863

The human gene Ptpn11, which encodes the tyrosine phosphatase Shp2, may act as a proto-oncogene because dominantly activating mutations have been detected in several types of leukemia. Herein we report a tumor-suppressor function of Shp2. Hepatocyte-specific deletion of Shp2 promotes inflammatory signaling through the Stat3 pathway and hepatic inflammation/necrosis, resulting in regenerative hyperplasia and development of tumors in aged mice. Furthermore, Shp2 ablation dramatically enhanced diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, which was abolished by concurrent deletion of Shp2 and Stat3 in hepatocytes. Decreased Shp2 expression was detected in a subfraction of human HCC specimens. Thus, in contrast to the leukemogenic effect of dominant-active mutants, Ptpn11/Shp2 has a tumor-suppressor function in liver.


The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Aug, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22692204

Although N-acetyl groups are common in nature, N-glycolyl groups are rare. Mammals express two major sialic acids, N-acetylneuraminic acid and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). Although humans cannot produce Neu5Gc, it is detected in the epithelial lining of hollow organs, endothelial lining of the vasculature, fetal tissues, and carcinomas. This unexpected expression is hypothesized to result via metabolic incorporation of Neu5Gc from mammalian foods. This accumulation has relevance for diseases associated with such nutrients, via interaction with Neu5Gc-specific antibodies. Little is known about how ingested sialic acids in general and Neu5Gc in particular are metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract. We studied the gastrointestinal and systemic fate of Neu5Gc-containing glycoproteins (Neu5Gc-glycoproteins) or free Neu5Gc in the Neu5Gc-free Cmah(-/-) mouse model. Ingested free Neu5Gc showed rapid absorption into the circulation and urinary excretion. In contrast, ingestion of Neu5Gc-glycoproteins led to Neu5Gc incorporation into the small intestinal wall, appearance in circulation at a steady-state level for several hours, and metabolic incorporation into multiple peripheral tissue glycoproteins and glycolipids, thus conclusively proving that Neu5Gc can be metabolically incorporated from food. Feeding Neu5Gc-glycoproteins but not free Neu5Gc mimics the human condition, causing tissue incorporation into human-like sites in Cmah(-/-) fetal and adult tissues, as well as developing tumors. Thus, glycoproteins containing glycosidically linked Neu5Gc are the likely dietary source for human tissue accumulation, and not the free monosaccharide. This human-like model can be used to elucidate specific mechanisms of Neu5Gc delivery from the gut to tissues, as well as general mechanisms of metabolism of ingested sialic acids.

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