ST6GAL1 and α2-6 Sialylation Regulates IL-6 Expression and Secretion in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Academic Article


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a systemic disease strongly associated with cigarette smoking, airway inflammation, and acute disease exacerbations. Changes in terminal sialylation and fucosylation of asparagine (N)-linked glycans have been documented in COPD, but the role that glycosyltransferases may play in the regulation of N-linked glycans in COPD has not been fully elucidated. Recent studies suggest that modulation of ST6GAL1 (ST6 beta-galactoside alpha-2,6-sialyltransferase-1), which catalyzes terminal α2-6 sialylation of cellular proteins, may regulate inflammation and contribute to COPD phenotype(s). Interestingly, it has been previously demonstrated that ST6GAL1, a Golgi resident protein, can be proteolytically processed by BACE1 (beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme-1) to a circulating form that retains activity. In this study, we showed that loss of ST6GAL1 expression increased interleukin (IL)-6 expression and secretion in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). Furthermore, exposure to cigarette smoke medium/extract (CSE) or BACE1 inhibition resulted in decreased ST6GAL1 secretion, reduced α2-6 sialylation, and increased IL-6 production in HBECs. Analysis of plasma ST6GAL1 levels in a small COPD patient cohort demonstrated an inverse association with prospective acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD), while IL-6 was positively associated. Altogether, these results suggest that reduced ST6GAL1 and α2-6 sialylation augments IL-6 expression/secretion in HBECs and is associated with poor clinical outcomes in COPD.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 28230061
  • Author List

  • Krick S; Helton ES; Easter M; Bollenbecker S; Denson R; Zaharias R; Cochran P; Vang S; Harris E; Wells JM
  • Volume

  • 12