Glycogene Expression Profile of Human Limbal Epithelial Cells with Distinct Clonogenic Potential

Date Published:

2022 May 07


Glycans function as valuable markers of stem cells but also regulate the ability of these cells to self-renew and differentiate. Approximately 2% of the human genome encodes for proteins that are involved in the biosynthesis and recognition of glycans. In the present study, we evaluated the expression of a small subset of glycogenes in human limbal epithelial cells with distinct clonogenic potential. Individual clones were classified as abortive or clonogenic, based on the fraction of the terminal colonies produced; clones leading exclusively to terminal colonies were referred to as abortive while those with half or fewer terminal colonies were referred to as clonogenic. An analysis of glycogene expression in clonogenic cultures revealed a high content of transcripts regulating the galactose and mannose metabolic pathways. Abortive clones were characterized by increased levels of GCNT4 and FUCA2, genes that are responsible for the branching of mucin-type O-glycans and the hydrolysis of fucose residues on N-glycans, respectively. The expansion of primary cultures of human limbal epithelial cells for 10 days resulted in stratification and a concomitant increase in MUC16, GCNT4 and FUCA2 expression. These data indicate that the clonogenic potential of human limbal epithelial cells is associated with specific glycosylation pathways. Mucin-type O-glycan branching and increased fucose metabolism are linked to limbal epithelial cell differentiation.

See also: Genomics, May 2022, All, 2022
Last updated on 06/01/2022