Upon infection with Schistosoma, antibody responses are mounted that are largely directed against glycans. Over the last few years significant progress has been made in characterising the antigenic properties of N-glycans of Schistosoma mansoni. Despite also being abundantly expressed by schistosomes, much less is understood about O-glycans and antibody responses to these have not yet been systematically analysed. Antibody binding to schistosome glycans can be analysed efficiently and quantitatively using glycan microarrays, but O-glycan array construction and exploration is lagging behind because no universal O-glycanase is available, and release of O-glycans has been dependent on chemical methods. Recently, a modified hydrazinolysis method has been developed that allows the release of O-glycans with free reducing termini and limited degradation, and we applied this method to obtain O-glycans from different S. mansoni life stages. Two-dimensional HPLC separation of 2-aminobenzoic acid-labelled O-glycans generated 362 O-glycan-containing fractions that were printed on an epoxide-modified glass slide, thereby generating the first shotgun O-glycan microarray containing naturally occurring schistosome O-glycans. Monoclonal antibodies and mass spectrometry showed that the O-glycan microarray contains well-known antigenic glycan motifs as well as numerous other, potentially novel, antibody targets. Incubations of the microarrays with sera from Schistosoma-infected humans showed substantial antibody responses to O-glycans in addition to those observed to the previously investigated N- and glycosphingolipid glycans. This underlines the importance of the inclusion of these often schistosome-specific O-glycans in glycan antigen studies and indicates that O-glycans contain novel antigenic motifs that have potential for use in diagnostic methods and studies aiming at the discovery of vaccine targets.
van Diepen, A., van der Plas, A. J., Kozak, R. P., Royle, L., Dunne, D. W., & Hokke, C. H. (2015). Development of a Schistosoma mansoni shotgun O-glycan microarray and application to the discovery of new antigenic schistosome glycan motifs. International Journal for Parasitology, 45(7), 465–475. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2015.02.008