Human and bovine surfactant proteins D (SP-D) were purified from late amniotic fluid and bronchioalveolar lavage on the basis of its Ca2+-dependent affinity for maltose. The molecular mass of a trimeric subunit was determined by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization MS to lie in the range 115-125 kDa for human SP-D and 110-123 kDa for bovine SP-D. A single polypeptide chain was determined at 37-41 and 36-40 kDa for the human and bovine species respectively. The major parts of the primary structures of both SP-D molecules were determined by a combination of MS and Edman degradation. The heterogeneity in SP-D was caused mainly by a high number of post-translational modifications in the collagen-like region. Proline and lysine residues were partly hydroxylated and lysine residues were further O-glycosylated with the disaccharide galactose-glucose. A partly occupied N-linked glycosylation site was characterized in human SP-D. The carbohydrate was determined as a complex type bi-antennary structure, with a small content of mono-antennary and tri-antennary structures. No sialic acid residues were present on the glycan, but some had an attached fucose and/or an N-acetylglucosamine residue linked to the core. Bovine SP-D was determined as having a similar structure.

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