Ricinus communis Agglutinin-Mediated Agglutination and Fusion of Glycolipid-Containing Phospholipid Vesicles: Effect of Carbohydrate Head Group Size, Calcium Ions, and Spermine


Nejat Düzgüneş: 0000-0001-6159-1391


Biomedical Sciences

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The glycolipids galactosylcerebroside (GalCer), lactosylceramide (LacCer), and trihexosylceramide (Gb3) were inserted into phospholipid vesicles, consisting of phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidic acid. The extent to which their carbohydrate head groups protruded beyond the vesicle surface and their interference with membrane approach were examined by determining vesicle susceptibility toward type I Ricinus communis agglutinin (RCA1) induced agglutination and Ca2+- and spermine-induced aggregation and fusion either in the presence or in the absence of the lectin. The initial agglutination rates increased in the order GalCer ≪LacCer < Gb3, while a reversed order was obtained for Ca2+- and spermine-induced aggregation and fusion, indicating an enhanced steric interference on close approach of bilayers with increasing head group size. The lectin-mediated agglutination rates for LacCer- and Gb3-containing vesicles increased by an order of magnitude when Ca2+was also included in the medium, at a concentration that did not induce aggregation per se. Charge neutralization could not account for this observation as the polyvalent cation spermine did not display this synergistic effect with RCA1.Addition of Ca2+to preagglutinated vesicles substantially reduced the threshold cation concentration for fusion (micromolar vs. millimolar). Quantitatively, this concentration decreased with decreasing carbohydrate head group size, indicating that the head group protrusion determined the interbilayer distance within the vesicle aggregate. The distinct behavior of Ca2+vs. spermine on RCArinduced agglutination on the one hand and fusion on the other indicated that Ca2+ regulates the steric orientation of the carbohydrate head group, which appears to be related to its ability to dehydrate the bilayer. As a result, lectin agglutinability becomes enhanced while fusion will be interrupted as the interbilayer distance increases, the threshold head group size being three carbohydrate residues (Gb3). Finally, GalCer-containing vesicles were not agglutinated by RCA1at ambient temperature, irrespective of the presence of Ca2+. Above 25 °C, RCA1 facilitated Ca2+-induced fusion of the vesicles, which was abolished by the haptenic sugar lactose. Since Gb3- and LacCer-containing vesicles displayed a similar behavior, a temperature-induced alteration in the supporting lipid matrix is suggested, which apparently affects lectin/glycolipid interaction. © 1986, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.