Activation of regulatory T cells triggers specific changes in glycosylation associated with Siglec-1-dependent inflammatory responses

Gang Wu, Gavuthami Murugesan, Manjula Nagala, Alex McCraw, Stuart M. Haslam, Anne Dell, Paul R. Crocker (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Siglec-1 is a macrophage lectin-like receptor that mediates sialic acid-dependent cellular interactions. Its upregulation on macrophages in autoimmune disease was shown previously to promote inflammation through suppressing the expansion of regulatory T cells (Tregs). Here we investigate the molecular basis for Siglec-1 binding to Tregs using in vitro-induced cells as a model system.

Methods: Glycosylation changes that affect Siglec-1 binding were studied by comparing activated and resting Tregs using RNA-Seq, glycomics, proteomics and binding of selected antibodies and lectins. A proximity labelling and proteomics strategy was used to identify Siglec-1 counter-receptors expressed on activated Tregs.

Results: Siglec-1 binding was strongly upregulated on activated Tregs, but lost under resting conditions. Glycomics revealed changes in N-glycans and glycolipids following Treg activation and we observed changes in expression of multiple 'glycogenes' that could lead to the observed increase in Siglec-1 binding. Proximity labelling of intact, living cells identified 49 glycoproteins expressed by activated Tregs that may function as Siglec-1 counter-receptors. These represent ~5% of the total membrane protein pool and were mainly related to T cell activation and proliferation. We demonstrate that several of these counter-receptors were upregulated following activation of Tregs and provide initial evidence that their altered glycosylation may also be important for Siglec-1 binding.

Conclusions: We provide the first comprehensive analysis of glycan changes that occur in activated Tregs, leading to recognition by the macrophage lectin, Siglec-1 and suppression of Treg expansion. We furthermore provide insights into glycoprotein counter-receptors for Siglec-1 expressed by activated Tregs that are likely to be important for suppressing Treg expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Number of pages30
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Glycomics
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophage
  • Proteomics
  • Regulatory T cell
  • Sialic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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