Several sugar structures have been reported to be necessary for haemopoiesis. We analysed the haematological phenotypes of transgenic mice expressing β-1,4 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III (GnT-III), which forms bisecting N-acetylglucosamine on asparagine-linked oligosaccharides. In the transgenic mice, the GnT-III activity was elevated in bone marrow, spleen and peripheral blood and in isolated mononuclear cells from these tissues, whereas no activity was found in these tissues of wild-type mice. Stromal cells after long-term cultures of transgenic-derived bone marrow and spleen cells also showed elevated GnT-III activity, compared with an undetectable activity in wild-type stromal cells. As judged by HPLC analysis, lectin blotting and lectin cytotoxicity assay, bisecting GlcNAc residues were increased on both blood cells and stromal cells from bone marrow and spleen in transgenic mice. The transgenic mice displayed spleen atrophy, hypocellular bone marrow and pancytopenia. Bone marrow cells and spleen cells from transgenic mice produced fewer haemopoietic colonies. After lethal irradiation followed by bone marrow transplantation, transgenic recipient mice showed pancytopenia compared with wild-type recipient mice. Bone marrow cells from transgenic donors gave haematological reconstitution at the same level as wild-type donor cells. In addition, non-adherent cell production was decreased in long-term bone marrow cell cultures of transgenic mice. Collectively these results indicate that the stroma-supported haemopoiesis is compromised in transgenic mice expressing GnT-III, providing the first demonstration that the N-glycans have some significant roles in stroma-dependent haemopoiesis.

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