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Concept: Glycosylation


COPI mediates retrograde trafficking from the Golgi to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and within the Golgi stack, sorting transmembrane proteins bearing C-terminal KKxx or KxKxx motifs. The structure of KxKxx motifs bound to the N-terminal WD-repeat domain of β'-COP identifies electrostatic contacts between the motif and complementary patches at the center of the β'-COP propeller. An absolute requirement of a two-residue spacing between the terminal carboxylate group and first lysine residue results from interactions of carbonyl groups in the motif backbone with basic side chains of β'-COP. Similar interactions are proposed to mediate binding of KKxx motifs by the homologous α-COP domain. Mutation of key interacting residues in either domain or in their cognate motifs abolishes in vitro binding and results in mistrafficking of dilysine-containing cargo in yeast without compromising cell viability. Flexibility between β'-COP WD-repeat domains and the location of cargo binding have implications for COPI coat assembly.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, Secretion, Endoplasmic reticulum, Glycosylation, Lysosome


O-linked glycosylation is one of the most abundant post-translational modifications of proteins. Within the secretory pathway of higher eukaryotes, the core of these glycans is frequently an N-acetylgalactosamine residue that is α-linked to serine or threonine residues. Glycoside hydrolases in family 101 are presently the only known enzymes to be able to hydrolyze this glycosidic linkage. Here we determine the high-resolution structures of the catalytic domain comprising a fragment of GH101 from Streptococcus pneumoniae TIGR4, SpGH101, in the absence of carbohydrate, and in complex with reaction products, inhibitor, and substrate analogues. Upon substrate binding, a tryptophan lid (residues 724-WNW-726) closes on the substrate. The closing of this lid fully engages the substrate in the active site with D764 positioned directly beneath C1 of the sugar residue bound within the -1 subsite, consistent with its proposed role as the catalytic nucleophile. In all of the bound forms of the enzyme, however, the proposed catalytic acid/base residue was found to be too distant from the glycosidic oxygen (>4.3 Å) to serve directly as a general catalytic acid/base residue and thereby facilitate cleavage of the glycosidic bond. These same complexes, however, revealed a structurally conserved water molecule positioned between the catalytic acid/base and the glycosidic oxygen. On the basis of these structural observations we propose a new variation of the retaining glycoside hydrolase mechanism wherein the intervening water molecule enables a Grotthuss proton shuttle between E796 and the glycosidic oxygen, permitting this residue to serve as the general acid/base catalytic residue.

Concepts: Enzyme, Starch, Polysaccharide, Cellulose, Glycosylation, Carbohydrate chemistry, Glycoside, Carbohydrates


Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a major effector molecule of the human immune response, and aberrations in IgG glycosylation are linked to various diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying protein glycosylation are still poorly understood. We present a data-driven approach to infer reactions in the IgG glycosylation pathway using large-scale mass-spectrometry measurements. Gaussian graphical models are used to construct association networks from four cohorts. We find that glycan pairs with high partial correlations represent enzymatic reactions in the known glycosylation pathway, and then predict new biochemical reactions using a rule-based approach. Validation is performed using data from a GWAS and results from three in vitro experiments. We show that one predicted reaction is enzymatically feasible and that one rejected reaction does not occur in vitro. Moreover, in contrast to previous knowledge, enzymes involved in our predictions colocalize in the Golgi of two cell lines, further confirming the in silico predictions.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Cell, Molecular biology, Enzyme, Glucose, Immunology, Glycosylation


C1 inhibitor (C1INH) is a single-chain glycoprotein that inhibits activation of the contact system of coagulation and the complement system. C1INH isolated from human blood plasma (pd-hC1INH) is used for the management of hereditary angioedema (HAE), a disease caused by heterozygous deficiency of C1INH, and is a promise for treatment of ischemia-reperfusion injuries like acute myocardial or cerebral infarction. To obtain large quantities of C1INH, recombinant human C1INH (rhC1INH) was expressed in the milk of transgenic rabbits (12g/l) harboring genomic human C1INH sequences fused to 5' bovine αS(1) casein promoter sequences. Recombinant hC1INH was isolated from milk to a specific activity of 6.1U/mg and a purity of 99%; by size-exclusion chromatography the 1% impurities consisted of multimers and N-terminal cleaved C1INH species. Mass spectrometric analysis of purified rhC1INH revealed a relative molecular mass (M®) of 67,200. Differences in M® on SDS PAGE and mass spectrometric analysis between rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH are explained by differential glycosylation (calculated carbohydrate contents of 21% and 28%, respectively), since protein sequencing analysis of rhC1INH revealed intact N- and C-termini. Host-related impurity analysis by ELISA revealed trace amounts of rabbit protein (approximately 10ppm) in purified batches, but not endogenous rabbit C1INH. The kinetics of inhibition of the target proteases C1s, Factor XIIa, kallikrein and Factor XIa by rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH, indicated comparable inhibitory potency and specificity. Recently, rhC1INH (Ruconest(®)) has been approved by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of acute attacks of HAE.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Blood, Coagulation, Complement system, Glycosylation, Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, C1-inhibitor


Glycosylation, an important posttranslational modification process, can modulate the structure and function of proteins, but its effect on the properties of plasma cells is largely unknown. In this study, we identified a panel of glycoproteins by click reaction with alkynyl sugar analogs in plasma cells coupled with mass spectrometry analysis. The B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), an essential membrane protein for maintaining the survival of plasma cells, was identified as a glycoprotein exhibiting complex-type N-glycans at a single N-glycosylation site, asparagine 42. We then investigated the effect of N-glycosylation on the function of BCMA and found that the dexamethasone-induced apoptosis in malignant plasma cells can be rescued by treatment with BCMA ligands, such as a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) and B-cell-activating factor (BAFF), whereas removal of terminal sialic acid on plasma cells further potentiated the ligand-mediated protection. This effect is associated with the increased surface retention of BCMA, leading to its elevated level on cell surface. In addition, the α1-3,-4 fucosylation, but not the terminal sialylation, assists the binding of BCMA with ligands in an in vitro binding assay. Together, our results highlight the importance of N-glycosylation on BCMA in the regulation of ligand binding and functions of plasma cells.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Mass spectrometry, Sialic acid, B cell, Posttranslational modification, Glycosylation, Glycoprotein


Glycosylation is a posttranslational modification that occurs during production of many protein-based biologic drugs and can have a profound impact on their biological, clinical and pharmacological properties. Quality by design (QbD), process optimization, and advance in manufacturing technology create a demand for robust, sensitive, and accurate profiling and quantification of antibody glycosylation. Potential drawbacks in antibody glycosylation profiling include the high hands-on time required for sample preparation and several hours for data acquisition and analysis. Rapid and high-throughput N-glycan profiling and characterization along with automation for sample preparation and analysis are essential for extensive antibody glycosylation analysis due to the substantial improvement of turnaround time. The first part of this review article will focus on the recent progress in rapid and high-throughput sample preparation and analysis of antibody glycosylation. Subsequently, the article will cover a brief overview of various separation and mass spectrometric methods for the rapid and high-throughput (HTP) analysis of N-glycans in antibodies. Finally, we will discuss the recent developments in process analytical technologies (PAT) for the screening and quantification of N-glycans in antibodies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Posttranslational modification, Lysine, Glycosylation, All rights reserved, Glycoprotein, Glycation, Copyright, Threonine


Multimeric fragment crystallizable (Fc) regions and Fc-fusion proteins are actively being explored as biomimetic replacements for intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy, which is deployed to manage many diseases and conditions but is expensive and not always efficient. The Fc region of human IgG1 (IgG1-Fc) can be engineered into multimeric structures (hexa-Fcs) that bind their cognate receptors with high avidity. The critical influence of the unique N-linked glycan attached at Asn-297 on the structure and function of IgG1-Fc is well documented; however, whether the N-linked glycan has a similarly critical role in multimeric, avidly binding Fcs is unknown. Hexa-Fc contains two N-linked sites, at Asn-77 (equivalent to Asn-297 in the Fc of IgG1) and Asn-236 (equivalent to Asn-563 in the tailpiece of IgM). We report here that glycosylation at Asn-297 is critical for interactions with Fc receptors and complement and that glycosylation at Asn-563 is essential for controlling multimerization. We also found that introduction of an additional fully occupied N-linked glycosylation site at the N-terminus at position 1 (equivalent to Asp-221 in the Fc of IgG1) dramatically enhances overall sialic acid content of the Fc multimers. Furthermore, replacement of Cys-575 in the IgM tailpiece of multimers resulted in monomers with enhanced sialic acid content and differential receptor-binding profiles. Thus, insertion of additional N-linked glycans into either the hinge or tailpiece of monomers or multimers leads to molecules with enhanced sialylation that may be suitable for managing inflammation or blocking pathogen invasion.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Fc receptor, Glycoproteins, Sialic acid, Immunology, Glycosylation


Glycosylation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is closely associated with protein folding and quality control. We recently described a non-canonical ER quality control mechanism for folding of thrombospondin type 1 repeats by Protein O-fucosyltransferase 2 (POFUT2). Epidermal Growth Factor-like (EGF) repeats are also small, cysteine rich protein motifs that can be O-glycosylated by several ER-localized enzymes including Protein O-glucosyltransferase 1 (POGLUT1) and POFUT1. Both POGLUT1 and POFUT1 modify the Notch receptor on multiple EGF repeats and are essential for full Notch function. The fact that POGLUT1 and POFUT1 can distinguish between folded and unfolded EGF repeats raised the possibility that they participate in a quality control pathway for folding of EGF repeats in proteins such as Notch. Here we demonstrate that cell-surface expression of endogenous Notch1 in HEK293T cells is dependent on the presence of POGLUT1 and POFUT1 in an additive manner. In vitro unfolding assays reveal that addition of O-glucose or O-fucose stabilizes a single EGF repeat, and that addition of both O-glucose and O-fucose enhances stability in an additive manner. Finally, we solved the crystal structure of a single EGF repeat covalently modified by a full O-glucose trisaccharide at 2.2 Å resolution. The structure reveals that the glycan fills up a surface groove of the EGF with multiple contacts with the protein, providing a chemical basis for the stabilizing effects of the glycans. Taken together, this work suggests that O-fucose and O-glucose glycans cooperatively stabilize individual EGF repeats through intramolecular interactions, thereby regulating Notch trafficking in cells.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Enzyme, Glucose, Golgi apparatus, Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein folding, Glycosylation


The cytoplasmic peptide:N-glycanase (Ngly1 in mammals) is a de-N-glycosylating enzyme that is highly conserved among eukaryotes. It was recently reported that subjects harboring mutations in the NGLY1 gene exhibited severe systemic symptoms (NGLY1-deficiency). While the enzyme obviously has a critical role in mammals, its precise function remains unclear. In this study, we analyzed Ngly1-deficient mice and found that they are embryonic lethal in C57BL/6 background. Surprisingly, the additional deletion of the gene encoding endo-β-N-acetylglucosaminidase (Engase), which is another de-N-glycosylating enzyme but leaves a single GlcNAc at glycosylated Asn residues, resulted in the partial rescue of the lethality of the Ngly1-deficient mice. Additionally, we also found that a change in the genetic background of C57BL/6 mice, produced by crossing the mice with an outbred mouse strain (ICR) could partially rescue the embryonic lethality of Ngly1-deficient mice. Viable Ngly1-deficient mice in a C57BL/6 and ICR mixed background, however, showed a very severe phenotype reminiscent of the symptoms of NGLY1-deficiency subjects. Again, many of those defects were strongly suppressed by the additional deletion of Engase in the C57BL/6 and ICR mixed background. The defects observed in Ngly1/Engase-deficient mice (C57BL/6 background) and Ngly1-deficient mice (C57BL/6 and ICR mixed background) closely resembled some of the symptoms of patients with an NGLY1-deficiency. These observations strongly suggest that the Ngly1- or Ngly1/Engase-deficient mice could serve as a valuable animal model for studies related to the pathogenesis of the NGLY1-deficiency, and that cytoplasmic ENGase represents one of the potential therapeutic targets for this genetic disorder.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell, Chromosome, Glycosylation, Mouse


The polypeptide GalNAc-transferases (GalNAc-Ts), that initiate mucin-type O-glycosylation, consist of a catalytic and a lectin domain connected by a flexible linker. In addition to recognizing polypeptide sequence, the GalNAc-Ts exhibit unique long-range N- and/or C-terminal prior glycosylation (GalNAc-O-Ser/Thr) preferences modulated by the lectin domain. Here we report studies on GalNAc-T4 that reveal the origins of its unique N-terminal long-range glycopeptide specificity, which is the opposite of GalNAc-T2. The GalNAc-T4 structure bound to a monoglycopeptide shows that the GalNAc-binding site of its lectin domain is rotated relative to the homologous GalNAc-T2 structure, explaining their different long-range preferences. Kinetics and molecular dynamics simulations on several GalNAc-T2 flexible linker constructs show altered remote prior glycosylation preferences, confirming that the flexible linker dictates the rotation of the lectin domain, thus modulating the GalNAc-Ts' long-range preferences. This work for the first time provides the structural basis for the different remote prior glycosylation preferences of the GalNAc-Ts.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Protein structure, Enzyme, Posttranslational modification, Glycosylation, Glycoprotein, N-Acetylgalactosamine