Molecular biology of the cell

Sialylation of N-linked glycans mediates apical delivery of endolyn in MDCK cells via a galectin-9-dependent mechanism.

PMID 22855528


The sialomucin endolyn is implicated in adhesion, migration, and differentiation of various cell types. Along rat kidney tubules, endolyn is variously localized to the apical surface and endosomal/lysosomal compartments. Apical delivery of newly synthesized rat endolyn predominates over direct lysosomal delivery in polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. Apical sorting depends on terminal processing of a subset of lumenal N-glycans. Here we dissect the requirements of N-glycan processing for apical targeting and investigate the underlying mechanism. Modulation of glycan branching and subsequent polylactosamine elongation by knockdown of N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III or V had no effect on apical delivery of endolyn. In contrast, combined but not individual knockdown of sialyltransferases ST3Gal-III, ST3Gal-IV, and ST6Gal-I, which together are responsible for addition of α2,3- and α2,6-linked sialic acids on N-glycans, dramatically decreased endolyn surface polarity. Endolyn synthesized in the presence of kifunensine, which blocks terminal N-glycan processing, reduced its interaction with several recombinant canine galectins, and knockdown of galectin-9 (but not galectin-3, -4, or -8) selectively disrupted endolyn polarity. Our data suggest that sialylation enables recognition of endolyn by galectin-9 to mediate efficient apical sorting. They raise the intriguing possibility that changes in glycosyltransferase expression patterns and/or galectin-9 distribution may acutely modulate endolyn trafficking in the kidney.