Background. Glycan biosynthesis occurs though a multi-step process that requires a variety of enzymes ranging from glycosyltransferases to those involved in cytosolic sugar metabolism. In many cases, glycan biosynthesis follows a glycan-specific, linear pathway. As glycosyltransferases are generally regulated at the level of transcription, assessing the overall transcriptional profile for glycan biosynthesis genes seems warranted. However, a systematic approach for assessing the correlation between glycan expression and glycan-related gene expression has not been reported previously. Methodology. To facilitate genetic analysis of glycan biosynthesis, we sought to correlate the expression of genes involved in cell-surface glycan formation with the expression of the glycans, as detected by glycan-recognizing probes. We performed cross-sample comparisons of gene expression profiles using a newly developed, glycan-focused cDNA microarray. Cell-surface glycan expression profiles were obtained using flow cytometry of cells stained with plant lectins. Pearson's correlation coefficients were calculated for these profiles and were used to identify enzyme genes correlated with glycan biosynthesis. Conclusions. This method, designated correlation index-based responsible-enzyme gene screening (CIRES), successfully identified genes already known to be involved in the biosynthesis of certain glycans. Our evaluation of CIRES indicates that it is useful for identifying genes involved in the biosynthesis of glycan chains that can be probed with lectins using flow cytometry.
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