Gangliosides are constituents of the mammalian cell membranes and participate in the inflammatory response. However, little is known about the presence and enzymatic activity of ganglioside sialyltransferases at the cell surface of macrophages, one of the most important immune cells involved in the innate inflammatory process. In the present study, using biochemical and fluorescent microscopy approaches, we found that endogenous ST8Sia-I is present at the plasma membrane (ecto-ST8Sia-I) of murine macrophage RAW264.7 cells. Moreover, ecto-ST8Sia-I can synthetize GD3 ganglioside at the cell surface in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages even when LPS-stimulated macrophages reduced the total ST8Sia-I expression levels. Besides, cotreatment of LPS with an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase recovered the ecto-ST8Sia-I expression, suggesting that NO production is involved in the reduction of ST8Sia-I expression. The diminution of ST8Sia-I expression in LPS-stimulated macrophages correlated with a reduction of GD3 and GM1 gangliosides and with an increment of GD1a. Taken together, the data supports the presence and activity of sialyltransferases at the plasma membrane of RAW264.7 cells. The variations of ecto-ST8Sia-I and ganglioside levels in stimulated macrophages constitutes a promissory pathway to further explore the physiological role of this and others ganglioside metabolism-related enzymes at the cell surface during the immune response.
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