Molecular analysis of beta 1,4-galactosyltransferase localization to the cell surface and participation in cell adhesion

Susan Carroll Evans, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


$\beta$1,4-Galactosyltransferase (GalTase) is unusual among the glycosyltransferases in that it is found in two subcellular compartments where it performs different functions. In the trans-Golgi complex, GalTase participates in oligosaccharide biosynthesis as do other glycosyltransferases. GalTase is also found on the cell surface, where it associates with the cytoskeleton and functions as a receptor for extracellular oligosaccharide ligands. Although we know much regarding GalTase function on the cell surface, little is known about the mechanisms underlying its transport to the plasma membrane. Cloning of the GalTase gene revealed that there are two GalTase proteins (i.e., long and short) with different size cytoplasmic tails. This raises the possibility that differences in the cytoplasmic domain of GalTase may influence its subcellular distribution. The object of this study was to examine this hypothesis directly through the use of molecular, immunological, and biochemical approaches. To examine whether the two GalTase proteins are targeted to different subcellular compartments, F9 embryonal carcinoma cells were transfected with either long or short GalTase cDNAs and intracellular and cell surface enzyme levels measured. Cell surface GalTase activity was enriched in cells overexpressing the long, but not the form of short GalTase. Furthermore, a dominant negative mutation in cell surface GalTase was created by transfecting cells with GalTase cDNAs encoding a truncated version of long GalTase devoid of the extracellular catalytic domain. Overexpressing the complete cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains of long GalTase led to a loss of GalTase-dependent cellular adhesion by specifically displacing surface GalTase from its cytoskeletal associations. In contrast, overexpressing the analogous truncated protein of short GalTase had no effect on cell adhesion. Finally, chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter proteins were used to determine directly whether the cytoplasmic domains of long and short GalTase were responsible for differential subcellular distribution. The cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains of long GalTase led to CAT expression on the ceil surface and its association with the detergent-insoluble cytoskeleton; the analogous fusion protein containing short GalTase was restricted to the Golgi compartment. These results suggest that the cytoplasmic domain unique to long GalTase is responsible for targeting a portion of this protein to the cell surface and associating it with the cytoskeleton, enabling it to function as a cell adhesion molecule.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Evans, Susan Carroll, "Molecular analysis of beta 1,4-galactosyltransferase localization to the cell surface and participation in cell adhesion" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9426533.