Bisecting GlcNAc protein N-glycosylation is characteristic of human adipogenesis

Katherine Wongtrakul-Kish, Benjamin R. Herbert, Nicolle H. Packer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Human adipose tissue contains a major source of adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) that have the ability to differentiate into various cell types: in vitro, ADSCs can differentiate into mesenchymal lineages including adipocytes, while in vivo, ADSCs become mature adipocytes. Protein glycosylation has been shown to change in stem cell differentiation, and while ADSCs have been acknowledged for their therapeutic potential, little is known about protein glycosylation during human ADSC adipogenic differentiation. In the present study, the global membrane protein glycosylation of native adipocytes was compared to ADSCs from the same individuals as a model of in vivo adipogenesis. For in vitro adipogenesis, ADSCs were adipogenically differentiated in cell culture using an optimized, large-scale differentiation procedure. The membrane glycome of the differentiated ADSCs (dADSCs) was compared with mature adipocytes and the progenitor ADSCs. A total of 137 glycan structures were characterized across the three cell types using PGC-LC coupled with negative-ion electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS)/MS. Significantly higher levels of bisecting GlcNAc-type N-glycans were detected in mature adipocytes (32.1% of total glycans) and in in vitro dADSC progeny (1.9% of total glycans) compared to ADSCs. This was further correlated by the mRNA expression of the MGAT3 gene responsible for the enzymatic synthesis of this structural type. The bisecting GlcNAc structures were found on the majority of human native adipocyte membrane proteins, suggesting an important role in human adipocyte biology. Core fucosylation was also significantly increased during in vivo adipogenesis but did not correlate with an increase in Fut8 gene transcript. Unexpectedly, low abundance structures carrying rare β-linked Gal-Gal termini were also detected. Overall, the N-glycan profiles of the in vitro differentiated progeny did not reflect native adipocytes, and the results show that bisecting GlcNAc structures are a characteristic feature of human adipocyte membrane protein N-glycosylation. Raw MS files are available on GlycoPOST (ID: GPST000153

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1327
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number2
Early online date31 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2021


  • adipocyte
  • adipogenesis
  • adipogenic differentiation
  • adipose-derived stem cell
  • bisecting GlcNAc
  • glycosylation
  • membrane proteins


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