Rabbit Tamm–Horsfall glycoprotein and bovine submaxillary glycoprotein were both found to contain sialic acid residues which are released at a slow rate by the standard conditions of acid hydrolysis. These residues are also resistant to neuraminidases from Vibrio cholerae and Clostridium perfringens. This behaviour was attributed to the presence of O-acetylated sialic acid, since the removal of O-acetyl groups by mild alkaline treatment normalized the subsequent release of sialic acid from rabbit Tamm–Horsfall glycoprotein by acid and by enzymic hydrolysis. Determination of the O-acetyl residues in rabbit Tamm–Horsfall glycoprotein indicated that on average two hydroxyl groups of sialic acid are O-acetylated, and these were located on the polyhydroxy side-chain of sialic acid or on C-4 and C-8. These findings confirm the assumption that certain O-acetylated forms of sialic acid are not substrates for bacterial neuraminidases. Several explanations have been suggested to explain the effect of O-acetylation of the side-chain on the rate of acidcatalysed hydrolysis of sialic acid residues.

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