Metabolic flux analysis of the neural cell glycocalyx reveals differential utilization of monosaccharides

Maurice Wong, Gege Xu, Mariana Barboza, Izumi Maezawa, Lee Way Jin, Angela Zivkovic, Carlito B. Lebrilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Saccharides in our diet are major sources of carbon for the formation of biomass such as proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and glycans. Among the dietary monosaccharides, glucose occupies a central role in metabolism, but human blood contains regulated levels of other monosaccharides as well. Their influence on metabolism and how they are utilized have not been explored thoroughly. Applying metabolic flux analysis on glycan synthesis can reveal the pathways that supply glycosylation precursors and provide a snapshot of the metabolic state of the cell. In this study, we traced the incorporation of six 13C uniformly labeled monosaccharides in the N-glycans, O-glycans and glycosphingolipids of both pluripotent and neural NTERA-2 cells. We gathered detailed isotopologue data for hundreds of glycoconjugates using mass spectrometry methods. The contributions of de novo synthesis and direct incorporation pathways for glucose, mannose, fructose, galactose, N-acetylglucosamine and fucose were determined based on their isotope incorporation. Co-feeding studies revealed that fructose incorporation is drastically decreased by the presence of glucose, while mannose and galactose were much less affected. Furthermore, increased sialylation slowed down the turnover of glycans, but fucosylation attenuated this effect. Our results demonstrated that exogenous monosaccharide utilization can vary markedly depending on the cell differentiation state and monosaccharide availability, and that the incorporation of carbons can also differ among different glycan structures. We contend that the analysis of metabolic isotope labeling of glycans can yield new insights about cell metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-871
Number of pages13
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 21 2020


  • glycomics
  • mass spectrometry
  • metabolic flux analysis
  • neuron
  • stable isotope labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolic flux analysis of the neural cell glycocalyx reveals differential utilization of monosaccharides'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this