The binding of selectins to carbohydrate epitopes expressed on leukocytes is the first step in a multi-step cell adhesion cascade that controls the rate of leukocyte recruitment at sites of inflammation. The glycans that function as selectin-ligands are post-translationally synthesized by the serial action of Golgi resident enzymes called glycosyltransferases (glycoTs). Whereas much of our current knowledge regarding the role of glycoTs in constructing selectin-ligands comes from reconstituted biochemical investigations or murine models, tools to assess the impact of these enzymes on the human ligands are relatively underdeveloped. This is significant since the selectin-ligands, particularly those that bind E-selectin, vary between different leukocyte cell populations and they are also different in humans compared with mice. To address this shortcoming, a recent study by Buffone et al. (2013) outlines a systematic strategy to knockdown upto three glycoTs simultaneously in human leukocytes. The results suggest that the fucosyltransferases (FUTs) regulating selectin-ligand synthesis may be species-specific. In particular, they demonstrate that FUT9 plays a significant role during human, but not mouse, leukocyte-endothelial interactions. Overall, this article discusses the relative roles of the FUTs during human L-, E- and P-selectin-ligand biosynthesis, and the potential that the knockdown strategy outlined here may assess the role of other glycoTs in human leukocytes also.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cell adhesion
- Endothelial cell
- Fluid shear
- Sialyl Lewis-X