Glycolipids in epithelial tissues of the gastrointestinal tract act as receptors for enteric bacteria and are implicated in the activation of the intestinal immune system. To clarify the genes involved in the fucosylation of the major glycolipids, substrate glycolipids and fucosylated products were measured in tissues of wild-type and mutant mice lacking α(1,2)fucosyltransferase genes FUT1 or FUT2. Quantitative determination was performed by TLC-immunostaining for GA1 (Gg4Cer), FGA1 (fucosyl GA1), GM1 (II3NeuAc-Gg4Cer), FGM1 (fucosyl GM1), and Forssman glycolipids. Both FGM1 and FGA1 completely disappeared from the antrum, cecum, and colon of FUT2-null mice, but not those of FUT1-null and wild-type mice. Precursor glycolipids, GM1 and GA1, accumulated in tissues of FUT2-null mice, indicating that the FUT2-encoded enzyme preferentially participates in the fucosylation of GA1 and GM1 in these tissues. Female reproductive organs were similarly found to utilize FUT2 for the fucosylation of glycolipids FGA1 (uterus and cervix), and FGM1 (ovary), due to their absence in FUT2-null mice. In FUT1-null mice FGA1 was lost from the pancreas, but was present in wild-type and FUT2-null mice, indicating that FUT1 is essential for fucosylation of GA1 in the pancreas. Ulex europaeus agglutinin-I lectin histochemistry for α(1,2)fucose residues confirmed the absence of α(1,2)fucose residues from the apical surface of pancreatic acinar glands of FUT1-null mice. Ileum, epididymis, and testis retained specific fucosylated glycolipids, irrespective of targeted deletion of either gene, indicating either compensation for or redundancy of the α(1,2)fucosyltransferase genes in these tissues.

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