Human-specific Microglial Siglec-11 Transcript Variant has the Potential to affect Polysialic Acid-Mediated Brain Functions at a Distance.
CD33-related Siglecs are often found on innate immune cells and modulate their reactivity by recognition of sialic acid-based "self-associated molecular patterns" (SAMPs) and signaling via intracellular tyrosine-based cytosolic motifs. Previous studies have shown that Siglec-11 specifically binds to the brain-enriched polysialic acid (polySia/PSA) and that its microglial expression in the brain is unique to humans. Furthermore, human microglial Siglec-11 exists as an alternate splice form missing the exon encoding the last (5th) Ig-like C2-set domain of the extracellular portion of the protein, but little is known about the functional consequences of this variation. Here, we report that the recombinant soluble human microglial form of Siglec-11 (hSiglec-11(4D)-Fc) binds endogenous and immobilized polySia better than the tissue macrophage form (hSiglec-11(5D)-Fc) or the chimpanzee form (cSiglec-11(5D)-Fc). The Siglec-11 protein is also prone to aggregation, potentially influencing its ligand-binding ability. Additionally, Siglec-11 protein can be secreted in both intact and proteolytically-cleaved forms. The microglial splice variant has reduced proteolytic release and enhanced incorporation into exosomes, a process that appears to be regulated by palmitoylation of cysteines in the cytosolic tail. Taken together, these data demonstrate that human brain specific microglial hSiglec-11(4D) has different molecular properties and can be released on exosomes and/or as proteolytic products, with the potential to affect polySia-mediated brain functions at a distance.