Glycobiology. 2023 Oct 4:cwad077. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwad077. Online ahead of print.
The development and function of the brain requires N-linked glycosylation of proteins, which is a ubiquitous modification in the secretory pathway. N-glycans have a distinct composition and undergo tight regulation in the brain, but the spatial distribution of these structures remains relatively unexplored. Here, we systematically employed carbohydrate binding lectins with differing specificities to various classes of N-glycans and appropriate controls to identify glycan expression in multiple regions of the mouse brain. Lectins binding high-mannose-type N-glycans, the most abundant class of brain N-glycans, showed diffuse staining with some punctate structures observed on high magnification. Lectins binding specific motifs of complex N-glycans, including fucose and bisecting GlcNAc, showed more partitioned labeling, including to the synapse-rich molecular layer of the cerebellum. Understanding the spatial distribution of N-glycans across the brain will aid future studies of these critical protein modifications in development and disease of the brain.