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Enterocyte glycosylation is responsive to changes in extracellular conditions: implications for membrane functions


Epithelial cells in the lining of the intestines play critical roles in maintaining homeostasis while challenged by dynamic and sudden changes in luminal contents. Given the high density of glycosylation that encompasses their extracellular surface, environmental changes may lead to extensive reorganization of membrane-associated glycans. However, neither the molecular details nor the consequences of conditional glycan changes are well understood. Here we assessed the sensitivity of Caco-2 and HT-29 membrane N-glycosylation to variations in (i) dietary elements, (ii) microbial fermentation products and (iii) cell culture parameters relevant to intestinal epithelial cell growth and survival. Based on global LC-MS glycomic and statistical analyses, the resulting glycan expression changes were systematic, dependent upon the conditions of each controlled environment. Exposure to short chain fatty acids produced significant increases in fucosylation while further acidification promoted hypersialylation. Notably, among all conditions, increases of high mannose type glycans were identified as a major response when extracellular fructose, galactose and glutamine were independently elevated. To examine the functional consequences of this discrete shift in the displayed glycome, we applied a chemical inhibitor of the glycan processing mannosidase, globally intensifying high mannose expression. The data reveal that upregulation of high mannose glycosylation has detrimental effects on basic intestinal epithelium functions by altering permeability, host-microbe associations and membrane protein activities.

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