Zebrafish and mouse alpha2,3-sialyltransferases responsible for synthesizing GM4 ganglioside.
We have previously reported that fish pathogens causing vibriosis specifically adhere to GM4 on the epithelial cells of fish intestinal tracts (Chisada, S., Horibata, Y., Hama, Y., Inagaki, M., Furuya, N., Okino, N., and Ito, M. (2005) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 333, 367-373). To identify the gene encoding the enzyme for GM4 synthesis in the fish intestinal tract, a phylogenetic tree of vertebrate ST3GalVs, including Danio rerio and Oryzias latipes, was generated in which two putative subfamilies of fish ST3GalVs were found. Two putative ST3GalVs of zebrafish (zST3GalV-1 and -2), each belonging to different subfamilies, were cloned from the zebrafish cDNA library. Interestingly, zST3GalV-1 synthesized GM3 (NeuAcalpha2-3Galbeta1-4Glcbeta1-1Cer) but not GM4, whereas zSTGalV-2 synthesized both gangliosides in vitro when expressed in CHO-K1 and RPMI1846 cells. Flow cytometric analysis using anti-GM4 antibody revealed that the transformation of RPMI1846 cells with zST3GalV-2 but not zST3GalV-1 cDNA increased the cell-surface expression of GM4. Whole mount in situ hybridization showed that the zST3GalV-2 transcript was strongly expressed in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas zST3GalV-1 was expressed in the brain and esophagus but not gastrointestinal tract in 3-day post-fertilization embryos. It has long been a matter of controversy which enzyme is responsible for the synthesis of GM4 in mammals. We found that three isoforms of mouse ST3GalV (mST3GalV) having different N-terminal sequences can synthesize GM4 as well as GM3 when expressed in RPMI1846 and CHO-K1 cells. Furthermore, mST3GalV knock-out mice were found to lack GM4 synthase activity and GM4 in contrast to wild-type mice. These results clearly indicate that zST3GalV-2 and mST3GalV are the enzymes responsible for the synthesis of GM4 in zebrafish and mice, respectively.