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Development 130 (7): 1439-1448

Induction of neuron-specific glycosylation by Tollo/Toll-8, a Drosophila Toll-like receptor expressed in non-neural cells

Antti Seppo, Parul Matani, Mary Sharrow, and Michael Tiemeyer*

Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA

* Author for correspondence (e-mail: miketiemeyer{at}

Accepted for publication 16 December 2002.

Abstract: Specific glycan expression is an essential characteristic of developing tissues. Our molecular characterization of a mutation that abolishes neural-specific glycosylation in the Drosophila embryo demonstrates that cellular interactions influence glycan expression. The HRP epitope is an N-linked oligosaccharide expressed on a subset of neuronal glycoproteins. Embryos homozygous for the TM3 balancer chromosome lack neural HRP-epitope expression. Genetic and molecular mapping of the relevant locus reveals that Tollo/Toll-8, a member of the Toll-like receptor family, is altered on the TM3 chromosome. In wild-type embryos, Tollo/Toll-8 is expressed by ectodermal cells that surround differentiating neurons and precedes HRP-epitope appearance. Re-introduction of Tollo/Toll-8 into null embryos rescues neural-specific glycan expression. Thus, loss of an ectodermal cell surface protein alters glycosylation in juxtaposed differentiating neurons. The portfolio of expressed oligosaccharides in a cell reflects its identity and also influences its interactions with other cells and with pathogens. Therefore, the ability to induce specific glycan expression complements the previously identified developmental and innate immune functions of Toll-like receptors.

Key Words: Toll-like receptor • Glycosylation • HRP epitope • N-linked oligosaccharide • Neuronal differentiation

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