The glycosylation abilities of snails deserve attention, because snail species serve as intermediate hosts in the developmental cycles of some human and cattle parasites. In analogy to many other host-pathogen relations, the glycosylation of snail proteins may likewise contribute to these host-parasite interactions. Here we present an overview on the O-glycan structures of 8 different snails (land and water snails, with or without shell): Arion lusitanicus, Achatina fulica, Biomphalaria glabrata, Cepaea hortensis, Clea helena, Helix pomatia, Limax maximus and Planorbarius corneus. The O-glycans were released from the purified snail proteins by β-elimination. Further analysis was carried out by liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and - for the main structures - by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Snail O-glycans are built from the four monosaccharide constituents: N-acetylgalactosamine, galactose, mannose and fucose. An additional modification is a methylation of the hexoses. The common trisaccharide core structure was determined in Arion lusitanicus to be N-acetylgalactosamine linked to the protein elongated by two 4-O-methylated galactose residues. Further elongations by methylated and unmethylated galactose and mannose residues and/or fucose are present. The typical snail O-glycan structures are different to those so far described. Similar to snail N-glycan structures they display methylated hexose residues.
- Methylated glycans