Expression of β1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases during differentiation of human acute myeloid leukemia cells

  • Hao Qiu
  • Shi-Liang Wu
  • Xiang-Hong Guo
  • Hong-Jie Shen
  • Huan-Ping Zhang
  • Hui Li ChenEmail author


The expressions of β1,3-N-acetylglucosamonyltransferase-2 and -8 (β3GnT-2, β3GnT-8),—the two main glycosyltransferases responsible for the synthesis of poly-N-acetyllactosamine (polyLacNAc) in glycans, and β3GnT-5 participating in the syntheses of sphingoglycolipids were studied in leukemia cell lines during differentiation using RT-PCR method. β3GnT-2 and β3GnT-8 distribute widely in six myeloid and monocytoid leukemia cell lines with different abundances, while β3GnT-4 was only present in NB4 cells. ATRA (all-trans retinoic acid) and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), which induce the differentiation of HL-60 and NB4 (two human acute myeloid leukemia cell lines) to myelocytic lineage, up-regulated these two enzymes with various degrees at 2 and 72 h of treatment. In HL-60 cells treated with ATRA, the increase of β3GnT-8 was more than β3GnT-2, while in NB4 cells treated with DMSO, the increase of β3GnT-2 was more than β3GnT-8. However, when HL-60 and NB4 were differentiated to monocytic lineage induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate the expressions of β3GnT-2 and β3GnT-8 showed no alterations or the increase of expressions was far less than those in myelocytic differentiation. By means of FITC-labeled tomato lectin affinity staining and flow-cytometry, it was found that the product of β3GnT-2 and -8, polyLacNAc was also increased on the cell surface of HL-60 and NB4 treated with ATRA or DMSO, but unchanged when treated with PMA. These results were in accordance with the up-regulation of the mRNAs of β3GnT-2 and -8. The expression of β3GnT-5, however, was not changed both in myelocytic and monocytic differentiations. The difference in the up-regulation of β3GnT-2 and -8, especially their products may become a useful index to discriminate the myelocytic and monocytic differentiation of leukemia cells.


Leukemia cell lines Differentiation-inducers β1, 3-N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferase RT-PCR Flow-cytometric analysis 



All-trans retinoic acid




Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate





GlcNAc (Gn)







Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction


Fluorescein isothiocynate


Fetal calf serum


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


N-(2-Hydroxyethyl) piperazine-N-(2-ethanesulfonic acid).


Phosphate-buffered saline



This research was supported by the grant from National Science Foundition of China (No. 30670642).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hao Qiu
    • 1
  • Shi-Liang Wu
    • 1
  • Xiang-Hong Guo
    • 1
  • Hong-Jie Shen
    • 2
  • Huan-Ping Zhang
    • 1
  • Hui Li Chen
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMedical School of Soochow UniversitySuzhouChina
  2. 2.Jiangsu Institute of HematologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow UniversitySuzhouChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Glycoconjugate Research, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyShanghai Medical College, Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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