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Complex glycans play vital roles in many biological processes, ranging from intracellular signaling and organ development to tumor growth. Glycan expression is routinely assessed by the application of glycan-specific antibodies to cells and tissues. However, glycan-specific antibodies quite often show a large number of bands on immunoblots and it is hard to interpret the data when reliable controls are lacking. This limits the scope of glycobiology studies and poses challenges for replication. We sought to resolve this issue by developing a novel strategy that utilizes an immunoreaction enhancing technology to vastly improve the speed and quality of glycan-based immunoblots. As a representative case study, we used chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycan (CS-GAG) chains as the carbohydrate target and a monoclonal antibody, CS-56, as the probe. We discovered that preincubation of the antibody with its antigenic CS-GAG chain distinguishes true-positive signals from false-positive ones. We successfully applied this strategy to 10E4, a monoclonal anti heparan sulfate GAGs (HS-GAGs) antibody, where true-positive signals were confirmed by chemical HS-GAG depolymerization on the membrane. This evidence that glycan-specific antibodies can generate clear and convincing data on immunoblot with highly replicable results opens new opportunities for many facets of life science research in glycobiology. Published by Oxford University Press 2020.


Haruna Nagase, Sayuri L Higashi, Chinyere A Iweka, Craig S Pearson, Yoko Hirata, Herbert M Geller, Yasuhiro Katagiri. Reliable and sensitive detection of glycosaminoglycan chains with immunoblots. Glycobiology. 2021 Feb 09;31(2):116-125

PMID: 32614944

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