These studies explore the role of carbohydrate recognition systems and the direct involvement of terminal alpha 1-3-linked fucose in the clearance of lactoferrin from the murine circulation and in the specific binding of lactoferrin to receptors on murine peritoneal macrophages. As previously reported, radiolabelled lactoferrin cleared very rapidly (t1/2 less than 1 min) after intravenous injection into mice. However, competing levels of ligands specific for the hepatic galactose receptor (asialo-orosomucoid), the hepatic fucose receptor (fucosyl-bovine serum albumin), and the mononuclear-phagocyte system pathway recognizing mannose, N-acetylglucosamine and fucose (mannosyl-, N-acetylglucosaminyl- and fucosyl-bovine serum albumin) did not block radiolabelled lactoferrin clearance in vivo or binding to mouse peritoneal macrophage monolayers in vitro. Almond emulsin alpha 1-3-fucosidase was used to prepare defucosylated lactoferrin in which 88% of the alpha 1-3-linked fucose was hydrolysed. No difference in clearance or receptor binding was observed between radiolabelled native and defucosylated lactoferrin. Fucoidin, a fucose-rich algal polysaccharide, completely inhibits the clearance in vivo and macrophage binding in vitro of lactoferrin. This effect, however, is probably not the result of competition for binding to the fucose receptor, since gel-filtration studies demonstrated formation of a stable complex between lactoferrin and fucoidin. The present results indicate that the lactoferrin-clearance pathway is distinct from several pathways mediating glycoprotein clearance through recognition of terminal galactose, fucose, N-acetylglucosamine or mannose. Furthermore, alpha 1-3-linked fucose on lactoferrin is not essential for lactoferrin clearance in vivo or specific binding to macrophage receptors in vitro.

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