Recombinant human cytosolic sialidase (HsNEU2), expressed in Escherichia coli, was purified to homogeneity, and its substrate specificity was studied. HsNEU2 hydrolyzed 4-methylumbelliferyl α-NeuAc, α2→3 sialyllactose, glycoproteins (fetuin, α-acid glycoprotein, transferrin, and bovine submaxillary gland mucin), micellar gangliosides GD1a, GD1b, GT1b, and α2→3 paragloboside, and vesicular GM3. α2→6 sialyllactose, colominic acid, GM1 oligosaccharide, whereas micellar GM2 and GM1 were resistant. The optimal pH was 5.6, kinetics Michaelis-Menten type, Vmax varying from 250 IU/mg protein (GD1a) to 0.7 IU/mg protein (α1-acid glycoprotein), and Km in the millimolar range. HsNEU2 was activated by detergents (Triton X-100) only with gangliosidic substrates; the change of GM3 from vesicular to mixed micellar aggregation led to a 8.5-fold Vmax increase. HsNEU2 acted on gangliosides (GD1a, GM1, and GM2) at nanomolar concentrations. With these dispersions (studied in detailed on GM1), where monomers are bound to the tube wall or dilutedly associated (1:2000, mol/mol) to Triton X-100 micelles, the Vmax values were 25 and 72 μIU/mg protein, and Km was 10 and 15 × 10-9 M, respectively. Remarkably, GM1 and GM2 were recognized only as monomers. HsNEU2 worked at pH 7.0 with an efficiency (compared with that at pH 5.6) ranging from 4% (on GD1a) to 64% (on α 1-acid glycoprotein), from 7% (on GD1a) to 45% (on GM3) in the presence of Triton X-100, and from 30 to 40% on GM1 monomeric dispersion. These results show that HsNEU2 differentially recognizes the type of sialosyl linkage, the aglycone part of the substrate, and the supramolecular organization (monomer/micelle/vesicle) of gangliosides. The last ability might be relevant in sialidase interactions with gangliosides under physiological conditions.
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