The structural heterogeneity of the carbohydrate moiety of desiaiylated human transferrin
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Human transferrin consists of a single chain polypeptide which supports two N-glycosidically linked glycans at sequons a and b. Glycopeptides were released from human transferrin by proteolytic digestion, desialylated by mild acid hydrolysis, and then isolated by chromatographic methods. The structures of the glycans located on each sequon were determined by a combination of analytical techniques including Smith degradation, permethylation, and enzymic degradation. Approximately 79% of the total glycan from sequon a was of the biantennary type as previously described by Dorland and his colleagues (FEBS Lett. 77, 15-20 (1977)). The remaining 21% consisted of a mixture of triantennary and tetraantennary glycans, each amounting to approximately 10% of the total glycan for this sequon. The triantennary structure resembled that described for the N-glycosidic triantennary glycans of bovine fetuin by Nilsson and his colleagues (J. Biol. Chem. 254, 4545-4553 (1979)). Of the tetraantennary glycan, approximately half of the structures were incomplete, i.e., one antenna terminated by N-acetylglucosamine. On sequon b, 81% of the glycan was biantennary, identical to those biantennary glycans of sequon a, and the reminder was triantennary, also of the fetuin type. The glycan structures and their locations on the polypeptide are related to the known subpopulations of human transferrin.
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