Vimentin and desmin are intermediate filament proteins found in various mesenchymal and skeletal muscle cells, respectively. These proteins play an important role in the stabilization of the cytoplasmic architecture. Here, we found, using artificial biomimicking glycopolymers, that vimentin and desmin possess N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc)-binding lectin-like properties on the cell surfaces of various vimentin- and desmin-expressing cells such as cardiomyocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. The rod II domain of these proteins was demonstrated to be localized to the cell surface and to directly bind to the artificial biomimicking GlcNAc-bearing polymer, by confocal laser microscopy and surface plasmon resonance analysis. These glycopolymers strongly interact with lectins and are useful tools for the analysis of lectin-carbohydrate interactions, since glycopolymers binding to lectins can induce the clustering of lectins due to multivalent glycoside ligand binding. Moreover, immunocytochemistry and pull-down assay with His-tagged vimentin-rod II domain protein showed that the vimentin-rod II domain interacts with O-GlcNAc proteins. These results suggest that O-GlcNAc proteins might be one candidate for physiological GlcNAc-bearing ligands with which vimentin and desmin interact. These findings demonstrate a novel function of vi-mentin and desmin that does not involve stabilization ofthe cytoplasmic architecture by which these proteins interact with physiological GlcNAc-bearing ligands such as O-GlcNAc proteins on the cell surface through their GlcNAc-binding lectin-like properties.
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