Research Highlights

Understanding through antibodies

Published online 5 May 2010

Mohammed Yahia

Post-translational modification by β-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (O-GlcNAc) is a highly dynamic response to cellular stress. However, a lack of O-GlcNAc-specific antibodies dampens efforts to detect and isolate these modified versions of proteins for studying.

A group of researchers, including Galal Elsayed from Ain Shams University, Egypt, obtained a large array of O-GlcNAc-specific antibodies using a three-component immunogen. This procedure allowed the researchers to identify >200 different mammalian O-GlcNAc-modified proteins, including a large number of new glycoproteins.

An increased level of O-GlcNAc in a rat model during resuscitation led to an improvement in organ function and decreased tissue injury. An increase in the breakdown of O-GlcNAc was also associated with an increase in markers of liver injury. Although the specific proteins that led to modifications of O-GlcNAc levels in response to trauma-haemorrhage and resuscitation were difficult to indentify, the new antibodies helped to distinguish a group of them that might help to regulate the response of the liver to stress.

Previous studies have linked alterations of O-GlcNAc levels to many widespread human diseases such as type II diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. The new tools put forward by the researchers might allow further investigation into how O-GlcNAc-modified proteins could be used to treat these diseases.

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  1. Teo, CF. et al. Glycopeptide-specific monoclonal antibodies suggest new roles for O-GlcNAc. Nature Chemical Biology. 6, 338-343 (2010) | Article | PubMed