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1.  The Villain Team-Up or how Trichomonas vaginalis and bacterial vaginosis alter innate immunity in concert 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2013;89(6):460-466.
Complex interactions of vaginal microorganisms with the genital tract epithelium shape mucosal innate immunity, which holds the key to sexual and reproductive health. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a microbiome-disturbance syndrome prevalent in reproductive-age women, occurs commonly in concert with trichomoniasis, and both are associated with increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes and viral infections, largely attributable to inflammation. To investigate the causative relationships among inflammation, BV and trichomoniasis, we established a model of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells colonised by vaginal Lactobacillus isolates, dominant in healthy women, and common BV species (Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis and Prevotella bivia).
Colonised epithelia were infected with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) or exposed to purified TV virulence factors (membrane lipophosphoglycan (LPG), its ceramide-phosphoinositol-glycan core (CPI-GC) or the endosymbiont Trichomonas vaginalis virus (TVV)), followed by assessment of bacterial colony-forming units, the mucosal anti-inflammatory microbicide secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), and chemokines that drive pro-inflammatory, antigen-presenting and T cells.
TV reduced colonisation by Lactobacillus but not by BV species, which were found inside epithelial cells. TV increased interleukin (IL)-8 and suppressed SLPI, likely via LPG/CPI-GC, and upregulated IL-8 and RANTES, likely via TVV as suggested by use of purified pathogenic determinants. BV species A vaginae and G vaginalis induced IL-8 and RANTES, and also amplified the pro-inflammatory responses to both LPG/CPI-GC and TVV, whereas P bivia suppressed the TV/TVV-induced chemokines.
These molecular host–parasite–endosymbiont–bacteria interactions explain epidemiological associations and suggest a revised paradigm for restoring vaginal immunity and preventing BV/TV-attributable inflammatory sequelae in women.
PMCID: PMC3746192  PMID: 23903808
2.  Trichomonas vaginalis Lipophosphoglycan Mutants Have Reduced Adherence and Cytotoxicity to Human Ectocervical Cells 
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(11):1951-1958.
The extracellular human pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis is covered by a dense glycocalyx thought to play a role in host-parasite interactions. The main component of the glycocalyx is lipophosphoglycan (LPG), a polysaccharide anchored in the plasma membrane by inositol phosphoceramide. To study the role of LPG in trichomonads, we produced T. vaginalis LPG mutants by chemical mutagenesis and lectin selection and characterized them using morphological, biochemical, and functional assays. Two independently selected LPG mutants, with growth rates comparable to that of the wild-type (parent) strain, lost the ability to bind the lectins Ricinnus comunis agglutinin I (RCA120) and wheat germ agglutinin, indicating alterations in surface galactose and glucosamine residues. LPG isolated from mutants migrated faster than parent strain LPG on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, suggesting the mutants had shorter LPG molecules. Dionex high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection analyses revealed galactosamine, glucosamine, galactose, glucose, mannose/xylose, and rhamnose as the main monosaccharides of T. vaginalis parent strain LPG. LPG from both mutants showed a reduction of galactose and glucosamine, corresponding with the reduced size of their LPG molecules and inability to bind the lectins RCA120 and wheat germ agglutinin. Mutant parasites were defective in attachment to plastic, a characteristic associated with avirulent strains of T. vaginalis. Moreover, the mutants were less adherent and less cytotoxic to human vaginal ectocervical cells in vitro than the parental strain. Finally, while parent strain LPG could inhibit the attachment of parent strain parasites to vaginal cells, LPG from either mutant could not inhibit attachment. These combined results demonstrate that T. vaginalis adherence to host cells is LPG mediated and that an altered LPG leads to reduced adherence and cytotoxicity of this parasite.
PMCID: PMC1287856  PMID: 16278462
3.  Probing Elongating and Branching β-d-Galactosyltransferase Activities in Leishmania Parasites by Making Use of Synthetic Phosphoglycans 
ACS chemical biology  2011;6(6):648-657.
Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania synthesize lipophosphoglycans (LPGs), phosphoglycans and proteophosphoglycans that contain phosphosaccharide repeat units of [−6)Gal(β1-4)Man(α1-OPO3H−]. The repeat structures are assembled by sequential addition of Manα1-OPO3H and β-Gal. In this study, an UDP-Gal-dependent activity was detected in L. donovani and L. major membranes using synthetic phospho-oligosaccharide fragments of lipophosphoglycan as acceptor substrates. Incubation of a microsomal preparation from L. donovani or L. major parasites with synthetic substrates and UDP-[6-3H]Gal resulted in incorporation of radiolabel into these exogenous acceptors. The [3H]galactose-labeled products were characterized by degradation into radioactive, low molecular mass fragments upon hydrolysis with mild acid and treatment with β-galactosidases. We showed that the activity detected with L. donovani membranes is the elongating β-d-galactosyltransferase associated with LPG phosphosaccharide backbone biosynthesis (eGalT). The eGalT activity showed a requirement for the presence of at least one phosphodiester group in the substrate and it was enhanced dramatically when two or three phosphodiester groups were present. Using the same substrates we detected two types of galactosyltransferase activity in L. major membranes: the elongating β-d-galactosyltransferase and a branching β-d-galactosyltransferase (bGalT). Both L. major enzymes required a minimum of one phosphodiester group present in the substrate, but acceptors with two or three phosphodiester groups were found to be superior.
PMCID: PMC3659391  PMID: 21425873
Glycobiology  2011;22(2):300-313.
Trichomonad species are widespread unicellular flagellated parasites of vertebrates which interact with their hosts through carbohydrate-lectin interactions. In the past, some data has been accumulated regarding their lipo(phospho)glycans, a major glycoconjugate on their cell surfaces; on the other hand, other than biosynthetic aspects, few details about their N-linked oligosaccharides are known. In this study, we present both mass spectrometric and HPLC data about the N-glycans of different strains of Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite of the human reproductive tract. The major structure in all strains examined is a truncated oligomannose form (Man5GlcNAc2) with α1,2-mannose residues, compatible with a previous bioinformatic examination of the glycogenomic potential of T. vaginalis. In addition, dependent on the strain, N-glycans modified by pentose residues, phosphate or phosphoethanolamine and terminal N-acetyllactosamine (Galβ1,4GlcNAc) units were found. The modification of N-glycans by N-acetyllactosamine in at least some strains is shared with the lipo(phospho)glycan and may represent a further interaction partner for host galectins, thereby playing a role in binding of the parasite to host epithelia. On the other hand, the variation in glycosylation between strains may be the result of genetic diversity within this species.
PMCID: PMC3272381  PMID: 21983210
trichomonads; N-glycan; mass spectrometry; pentose; phosphoethanolamine
5.  Trichomonas vaginalis Lipophosphoglycan Triggers a Selective Upregulation of Cytokines by Human Female Reproductive Tract Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(10):5773-5779.
Trichomonas vaginalis is one of the most common nonviral sexually transmitted human infections and, worldwide, has been linked to increased incidence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, preterm delivery, low birth weight, cervical cancer, and vaginitis. The molecular pathways that are important in initiating host inflammatory and immune responses to T. vaginalis are poorly understood. Here we report interactions of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells with the most abundant cell surface glycoconjugate of the parasite, the T. vaginalis lipophosphoglycan (LPG). Purified LPG mediated the adhesion of parasites to human vaginal epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, T. vaginalis LPG (but not LPG from Tritrichomonas foetus, the causative agent of bovine trichomoniasis) induced a selective upregulation of chemotactic cytokines by human endocervical, ectocervical, and vaginal epithelial cells, which do not express Toll-like receptor 4/MD2. The T. vaginalis LPG triggered interleukin 8 (IL-8), which promotes the adhesion and transmigration of neutrophils across the endothelium, and macrophage inflammatory protein 3α, which is a chemoattractant for immune cells and is essential for dendritic cell maturation. These effects were dose dependent and sustained in the absence of cytotoxicity and IL-1β release and utilized, at least in part, a signaling pathway independent from the Toll-like/IL-1 receptor adaptor protein MyD88.
PMCID: PMC1594934  PMID: 16988255
6.  Chemical Structure of Trichomonas vaginalis Surface Lipoglycan 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(47):40494-40508.
Background: Trichomonas vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG) mediates interactions between the parasite and human host.
Results: TvLG is composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of poly-N-acetyllactosamine that are involved in attachment to host epithelium.
Conclusion: TvLG has a unique structure among solved parasite glycans.
Significance: This work provides a template to analyze TvLG from T. vaginalis with different binding properties.
The extracellular parasite Trichomonas vaginalis contains a surface glycoconjugate that appears to mediate parasite-host cell interaction via binding to human galectin-1. This glycoconjugate also elicits cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells, implicating its role in modulation of host immune responses. We have analyzed the structure of this glycoconjugate, previously described to contain the sugars rhamnose (Rha), N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), galactose (Gal), xylose (Xyl), N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc), and glucose (Glc), using gas chromatograph mass spectrometry (GC-MS), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF), electrospray MS/MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), combined with chemical and enzymatic digestions. Our data reveal a complex structure, named T. vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG), that differs markedly from Leishmania lipophosphoglycan and Entamoeba lipopeptidophosphoglycan and is devoid of phosphosaccharide repeats. TvLG is composed of an α1–3 linked polyrhamnose core, where Rha residues are substituted at the 2-position with either β-Xyl or chains of, on average, five N-acetyllactosamine (-3Galβ1–4GlcNAcβ1-) (LacNAc) units and occasionally lacto-N-biose (-3Galβ1-3GlcNAcβ1-) (LNB). These chains are themselves periodically substituted at the Gal residues with Xyl-Rha. These structural analyses led us to test the role of the poly-LacNAc/LNB chains in parasite binding to host cells. We found that reduction of poly-LacNAc/LNB chains decreased the ability of TvLG to compete parasite binding to host cells. In summary, our data provide a new model for the structure of TvLG, composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of Xyl and poly-LacNAc/LNB. Furthermore, the poly-LacNAc side chains are shown to be involved in parasite-host cell interaction.
PMCID: PMC3220458  PMID: 21900246
Adhesion; Glycoconjugate; Glycolipid Structure; Host-Pathogen Interactions; Pathogenesis; Trichomonas; TvLG
7.  Impact of T. Vaginalis Infection on Innate Immune Responses and Reproductive Outcome 
Journal of reproductive immunology  2009;83(1-2):185-189.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted pathogen. The infection is prevalent in reproductive age women and is associated with vaginitis, endometritis, adnexitis, pyosalpinx, infertility, preterm birth, low birth weight, bacterial vaginosis, and increased risk of cervical cancer, HPV, and HIV infection. In men, its complications include urethritis, prostatitis, epididymitis, and infertility through inflammatory damage or interference with the sperm function. The infection is often asymptomatic and recurrent despite the presence of specific antibodies, suggesting the importance of the innate immune defense. T. vaginalis adhesion proteins, cysteine proteases, and the major parasite lipophosphoglycan (LPG) play distinct roles in the pathogenesis and evasion of host immunity. LPG plays a key role in the parasite adherence and signaling to human vaginal and cervical epithelial cells, which is at least in part mediated by galectins. The epithelial cells respond to T. vaginalis infection and purified LPG by selective upregulation of proinflammatory mediators. At the same time, T. vaginalis triggers an immunosuppressive response in monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive complications and epidemiologic risks associated with T. vaginalis infection remain to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2788009  PMID: 19850356
Trichomonas vaginalis; lipophosphoglycan; cytokines; galectins; human vaginal epithelial cells
8.  Adhesion of Tritrichomonas foetus to Bovine Vaginal Epithelial Cells 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(8):3847-3854.
An in vitro culture system of bovine vaginal epithelial cells (BVECs) was developed to study the cytopathogenic effects of Tritrichomonas foetus and the role of lipophosphoglycan (LPG)-like cell surface glycoconjugates in adhesion of parasites to host cells. Exposure of BVEC monolayers to T. foetus resulted in extensive damage of monolayers. Host cell disruption was measured quantitatively by a trypan blue exclusion assay and by release of 3H from [3H]thymidine-labeled host cells. Results indicated contact-dependent cytotoxicity of host cells by T. foetus. The cytopathogenic effect was a function of T. foetus density. Metronidazole- or periodate-treated T. foetus showed no damage to BVEC monolayers. A related human trichomonad, Trichomonas vaginalis, showed no cytotoxic effects, indicating species-specific host-parasite interactions. A direct binding assay was developed and used to investigate the role of a major cell surface LPG-like molecule in host-parasite adhesion. The results of competition experiments showed that the binding to BVECs was displaceable, was saturable, and yielded a typical binding curve, suggesting that specific receptor-ligand interactions mediate the attachment of T. foetus to BVECs. Progesterone-treated BVECs showed enhanced parasite binding. T. foetus LPG inhibited the binding of T. foetus to BVECs; the LPG from T. vaginalis and a variety of other glycoconjugates did not. These data imply specificity of LPG on host-parasite adhesion. Periodate-treated parasites showed no adherence to host cells, indicating the involvement of carbohydrate containing molecules in the adhesion process.
PMCID: PMC96664  PMID: 10417148
9.  UDP-xylose and UDP-galactose synthesis in Trichomonas vaginalis 
Graphical abstract
The genes encoding the enzymes required for UDP-xylose and UDP-galactose synthesis in Trichomonas vaginalis have been identified and the products of the recombinant enzymes analysed.
► Xylose and galactose are components of Trichomonas vaginalis glycans. ► T. vaginalis UDP-xylose synthase and UDP-galactose epimerase genes identified. ► Enzymes were expressed in recombinant form, purified and assayed.
The presence of xylose and galactose residues in the structure of trichomonad lipoglycans was indicated by previous studies and the modification of any glycoconjugate with either monosaccharide requires the respective presence of the nucleotide sugars, UDP-xylose and UDP-galactose. Biosynthesis of UDP-xylose de novo is mediated by UDP-xylose synthase (UXS; UDP-glucuronic acid decarboxylase), which converts UDP-glucuronic acid to UDP-xylose, whereas UDP-galactose can be generated from UDP-glucose by UDP-galactose epimerases (GalE). Trichomonas vaginalis cDNAs, encoding proteins with homology to these enzymes from other eukaryotes, were isolated. The recombinant T. vaginalis UDP-xylose synthase and UDP-galactose epimerase were expressed in Escherichia coli and tested via high pressure liquid chromatography to demonstrate their enzymatic activities. Thereby, in this first report on enzymes involved in glycoconjugate biosynthesis in this organism, we demonstrate the existence of xylose and galactose synthesising pathways in T. vaginalis.
PMCID: PMC3223521  PMID: 22008417
GalE, UDP-galactose-4′-epimerase; UDP-GlcA, UDP-glucuronic acid; UXS, UDP-xylose synthase; UDP-xylose; UDP-galactose; Trichomonas vaginalis
10.  Dolichyl-Phosphate-Glucose Is Used To Make O-Glycans on Glycoproteins of Trichomonas vaginalis▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(8):1344-1351.
Trichomonas vaginalis, the protist that causes vaginal itching, has a huge genome with numerous gene duplications. Recently we found that Trichomonas has numerous genes encoding putative dolichyl-phosphate-glucose (Dol-P-Glc) synthases (encoded by ALG5 genes) despite the fact that Trichomonas lacks the glycosyltransferases (encoded by ALG6, ALG8, and ALG10 genes) that use Dol-P-Glc to glucosylate dolichyl-PP-linked glycans. In addition, Trichomonas does not have a canonical DPM1 gene, encoding a dolichyl-P-mannose (Dol-P-Man) synthase. Here we show Trichomonas membranes have roughly 300 times the Dol-P-Glc synthase activity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae membranes and about one-fifth the Dol-P-Man synthase activity of Saccharomyces membranes. Endogenous Dol-P-hexoses of Trichomonas are relatively abundant and contain 16 isoprene units. Five paralogous Trichomonas ALG5 gene products have Dol-P-Glc synthase activity when expressed as recombinant proteins, and these Trichomonas Alg5s correct a carboxypeptidase N glycosylation defect in a Saccharomyces alg5 mutant in vivo. A recombinant Trichomonas Dpm1, which is deeply divergent in its sequence, has Dol-P-Man synthase activity. When radiolabeled Dol-P-Glc is incubated with Trichomonas membranes, Glc is incorporated into reducing and nonreducing sugars of O-glycans of endogenous glycoproteins. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of Dol-P-Glc as a sugar donor for O-glycans on glycoproteins.
PMCID: PMC2519777  PMID: 18552282
11.  Solid-Phase Synthesis of α-Glucosamine Sulfoforms With Fragmentation Analysis by Tandem Mass Spectrometry 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2008;73(16):6059-6072.
Sulfated epitopes of α-glucosamine (GlcN sulfoforms) were prepared by solid-phase synthesis as models of internal glucosamines within heparan sulfate. An orthogonally protected 2’-hydroxyethyl GlcN derivative was immobilized on a trityl resin support and subjected to regioselective deprotection and sulfonation conditions, which were optimized with the aid of on-resin infrared or Raman analysis. The sulfoforms were cleaved from the resin under mild Lewis acid conditions without affecting the O- or N-sulfate groups, and purified by reverse-phase reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The α-GlcN sulfoforms and their 4-O-benzyl ethers were examined by electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS), with product ion spectra produced by collision-induced dissociation (CID). ESI-MS/MS revealed significant differences in parent ion stabilities and fragmentation rates as a function of sulfate position. Ion fragmentation by CID resulted in characteristic mass losses with strong correlation to the positions of both free hydroxyl groups and sulfate ions. Most of these fragmentation patterns are consonant with elimination pathways, and suggest possible strategies for elucidating the structures of glucosamine-derived sulfoforms with identical m/z ratios. In particular, fragmentation analysis can easily distinguish GlcN sulfoforms bearing the relatively rare 3-O-sulfate from isomers with the more common 6-O-sulfate.
PMCID: PMC2613357  PMID: 18610984
12.  Lipophosphoglycan blocks attachment of Leishmania major amastigotes to macrophages. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(1):43-50.
Promastigotes of the intracellular protozoan parasite Leishmania major invade mononuclear phagocytes by a direct interaction between the cell surface lipophosphoglycan found on all Leishmania species and macrophage receptors. This interaction is mediated by phosphoglycan repeats containing oligomers of beta (1-3)Gal residues specific to L. major. We show here that although amastigotes also use lipophosphoglycan to bind to both primary macrophages and a cell line, this interaction is independent of the beta (1-3)Gal residues employed by promastigotes. Binding of amastigotes to macrophages could be blocked by intact lipophosphoglycan from L. major amastigotes as well as by lipophosphoglycan from promastigotes of several other Leishmania species, suggesting involvement of a conserved domain. Binding of amastigotes to macrophages could be blocked significantly by the monoclonal antibody WIC 108.3, directed to the lipophosphoglycan backbone. The glycan core of lipophosphoglycan could also inhibit attachment of amastigotes, but to a considerably lesser extent. The glycan core structure is also present in the type 2 glycoinositolphospholipids which are expressed on the surface of amastigotes at 100-fold-higher levels than lipophosphoglycan. However, their inhibitory effect could not be increased even when they were used at a 300-fold-higher concentration than lipophosphoglycan, indicating that lipophosphoglycan is the major macrophage-binding molecule on amastigotes of L. major. In the presence of complement, the attachment of amastigotes to macrophages was not altered, suggesting that lipophosphoglycan interacts directly with macrophage receptors.
PMCID: PMC172955  PMID: 7806383
13.  Conjugation, characterization and toxicity of lipophosphoglycan-polyacrylic acid conjugate for vaccination against leishmaniasis 
Research on the conjugates of synthetic polyelectrolytes with antigenic molecules, such as proteins, peptides, or carbohydrates, is an attractive area due to their highly immunogenic character in comparison to classical adjuvants. For example, polyacrylic acid (PAA) is a weak polyelectrolyte and has been used in several biomedical applications such as immunological studies, drug delivery, and enzyme immobilization. However, to our knowledge, there are no studies that document immune-stimulant properties of PAA in Leishmania infection. Therefore, we aimed to develop a potential vaccine candidate against leishmaniasis by covalently conjugating PAA with an immunologically vital molecule of lipophosphoglycan (LPG) found in Leishmania parasites. In the study, LPG and PAA were conjugated by a multi-step procedure, and final products were analyzed with GPC and MALDI-TOF MS techniques. In cytotoxicity experiments, LPG-PAA conjugates did not indicate toxic effects on L929 and J774 murine macrophage cells. We assume that LPG-PAA conjugate can be a potential vaccine candidate, and will be immunologically characterized in further studies to prove its potential.
PMCID: PMC3682889  PMID: 23731716
Polymer; Vaccine; Delivery; Adjuvant; Leishmania; Conjugation
14.  Analysis of Recombinant CD24 Glycans by MALDI-TOF-MS Reveals Prevalence of Sialyl-T Antigen 
CD24 is a glycosyl-phosphatidyl-inositol linked glycoprotein expressed in a broad range of cell types and is heavily glycosylated. It has been found to be over expressed in cancers and tumors and is also a costimulatory molecule. Therefore, this study was carried out to define the structures of the carbohydrates associated with the CD24 recombinant protein. The CD24 glycoprotein’s oligosaccharides were released by chemical and enzymatic means prior to being analyzed by MALDI-TOF-MS. The results obtained showed that CD24 is both N- and O-glycosylated. The major oligosaccharides were found to be Neu5Acα-2,3/6Galβ-1,3GalNAc, NeuAc2Gal β-1,3GalNAc1 (O-glycans), GalNAc2GlcNAc2Man3Fuc1, Gal1GalNAc2GlcNAc2Man3Fuc1, and Gal2GalNAc2GlcNAc2Man3Fuc1 (N-glycans). The results showed that Neu5Acα-2,3/6Galβ-1,3GalNAc (sialyl-tumor antigen, sT), a cancer-associated carbohydrate, was the most abundant glycan associated with CD24. This result raised the intriguing possibility that CD24 may be a major carrier of the sialyl-T abundantly found in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2856090  PMID: 20407596
CD24; Glycans; MALDI-TOF-MS; T antigen
15.  The surface glycoconjugates of trypanosomatid parasites. 
Insect-transmitted protozoan parasites of the order Kinetoplastida, suborder Trypanosomatina, include Trypanosoma brucei (aetiological agent of African sleeping sickness), Trypanosoma cruzi (aetiological agent of Chagas' disease in South and Central America) and Leishmania spp. (aetiological agents of a variety of diseases throughout the tropics and sub-tropics). The structures of the most abundant cell-surface molecules of these organisms is reviewed and correlated with the different modes of parasitism of the three groups of parasites. The major surface molecules are all glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoproteins, such as the variant surface glycoproteins of T. brucei and the surface mucins of T. cruzi, or complex glycophospholipids, such as the lipophosphoglycans and glycoinositolphospholipids of the leishmanias. Significantly, all of the aforementioned structures share a motif of Man alpha 1-4GlcN alpha 1-6-myo-inositol-1-HPO4-lipid and can therefore be considered to be members of a GPI superfamily.
PMCID: PMC1692025  PMID: 9355120
16.  A sensitive liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry-based assay for quantitation of amino-containing moieties in lipid A 
A novel sensitive liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry-based assay was developed for the quantitation of aminosugars, including 2-amino-2-deoxyglucose (glucosamine, GlcN), 2-amino-2-deoxygalactose (galactosamine, GalN), and 4-amino-4-deoxyarabinose (aminoarabinose, AraN), and for ethanolamine (EtN), present in lipid A. This assay enables the identification and quantitation of all amino-containing moieties present in lipopolysaccharide or lipid A from a single sample. The method was applied to the analysis of lipid A (endotoxin) isolated from a variety of biosynthetic and regulatory mutants of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Francisella tularensis subspecies novicida. Lipid A is treated with trifluoroacetic acid to liberate and deacetylate individual aminosugars and mass tagged with 6-aminoquinolyl-N-hydroxysuccinimidyl carbamate, which reacts with primary and secondary amines. The derivatives are separated using reversed-phase chromatography and analyzed using a single quadrupole mass spectrometer to detect quantities as small as 20 fmol. GalN was detected only in Francisella and AraN only in Salmonella, while GlcN was detected in lipid A samples from both species of bacteria. Additionally, we found an approximately 10-fold increase in the level of AraN in lipid A isolated from Salmonella grown in magnesium-limited versus magnesium-replete conditions. Salmonella with defined mutations in lipid A synthesis and regulatory genes were used to further validate the assay. Salmonella with null mutations in the phoP, pmrE, and prmF genes were unable to add AraN to their lipid A, while Salmonella with constitutively active phoP and pmrA exhibited AraN modification of lipid A even in the normally repressive magnesium-replete growth condition. The described assay produces excellent repeatability and reproducibility for the detection of amino-containing moieties in lipid A from a variety of bacterial sources.
PMCID: PMC2716696  PMID: 19130491
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(19):14006-14017.
In the protozoan parasite Leishmania, abundant surface and secreted molecules such as lipophosphoglycan (LPG)1 and proteophosphoglycans (PPGs) contain extensive galactose residues in the form of phosphoglycans (PGs) containing [Gal-Man-PO4] repeating units. PGs are synthesized in the parasite Golgi apparatus and require transport of cytoplasmic nucleotide-sugar precursors to the Golgi lumen by nucleotide sugar transporters (NSTs). GDP-Man transport is mediated by the LPG2 gene product, and here we focused on transporters for UDP-Gal. Database mining revealed twelve candidate NST genes in the L. major genome, including LPG2, as well as a candidate endoplasmic reticulum UDP-glucose transporter (HUT1L), and several pseudogenes. Gene knockout studies established that two genes (LPG5A and LPG5B) encoded UDP-Gal NSTs. While the single lpg5A− and lpg5B− mutants produced PGs, an lpg5A−/5B− double mutant was completely deficient. PG synthesis was restored in the lpg5A−/5B− mutant by heterologous expression of the human UDP-Gal transporter, and heterologous expression of LPG5A and LPG5B rescued the glycosylation defects of the mammalian Lec8 mutant, which is deficient in UDP-Gal uptake. Interestingly, the LPG5A and LPG5B functions overlap but are not equivalent, as the lpg5A− mutant showed a partial defect in LPG but not PPG phosphoglycosylation, while the lpg5B− mutant showed a partial defect in PPG but not LPG phosphoglycosylation. Identification of these key NSTs in Leishmania will facilitate the dissection of glycoconjugate synthesis and its role(s) in the parasite life cycle and further our understanding of NSTs generally.
PMCID: PMC2807729  PMID: 17347153
18.  Formation of UDP-2-acetamido-2-deoxy-L-galactose and UDP-2-acetamido-2-deoxy-L-galacturonic acid by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1990;172(1):299-304.
The O-specific polysaccharide from the lipopolysaccharide of Pseudomonas aeruginosa NCTC 8505 (IATS serotype O:3) consists of a tetrasaccharide repeating unit comprising L-rhamnose, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc), bacillosamine, and N-acetyl-L-galactosaminuronic acid (L-GalNAcA) (Y. Tahara and S. G. Wilkinson, Eur. J. Biochem. 134:299-304, 1983). Incubation of GlcN or UDP-GlcNAc with cell extracts or EDTA-treated cells of P. aeruginosa NCTC 8505 yielded a mixture of UDP-ManNAc, UDP-GalNAc, UDP-GlcNAcA, UDP-ManNAcA, UDP-L-GalNAc, and UDP-L-GalNAcA. The last two compounds, here identified for the first time, may be intermediates in the synthesis of the L-GalNAcA moiety of the O-specific portion of the lipopolysaccharide of P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC208432  PMID: 2152905
19.  Binding of N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) β1–6-branched Oligosaccharide Acceptors to β4-Galactosyltransferase I Reveals a New Ligand Binding Mode* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(34):28666-28674.
Background: The enzyme β4Gal-T1 synthesizes the LacNAc moiety of glycans.
Results: The extended oligosaccharide moiety of β1–6-branched GlcNAc acceptors binds to a different region on the enzyme.
Conclusion: β4Gal-T1 has two different oligosaccharide binding regions for extended oligosaccharide moieties of different acceptor substrates.
Significance: Multiple carbohydrate acceptor binding regions are observed on a glycosyltransferase.
N-Acetyllactosamine is the most prevalent disaccharide moiety in the glycans on the surface of mammalian cells and often found as repeat units in the linear and branched polylactosamines, known as i- and I-antigen, respectively. The β1–4-galactosyltransferase-I (β4Gal-T1) enzyme is responsible for the synthesis of the N-acetyllactosamine moiety. To understand its oligosaccharide acceptor specificity, we have previously investigated the binding of tri- and pentasaccharides of N-glycan with a GlcNAc at their nonreducing end and found that the extended sugar moiety in these acceptor substrates binds to the crevice present at the acceptor substrate binding site of the β4Gal-T1 molecule. Here we report seven crystal structures of β4Gal-T1 in complex with an oligosaccharide acceptor with a nonreducing end GlcNAc that has a β1–6-glycosidic link and that are analogous to either N-glycan or i/I-antigen. In the crystal structure of the complex of β4Gal-T1 with I-antigen analog pentasaccharide, the β1–6-branched GlcNAc moiety is bound to the sugar acceptor binding site of the β4Gal-T1 molecule in a way similar to the crystal structures described previously; however, the extended linear tetrasaccharide moiety does not interact with the previously found extended sugar binding site on the β4Gal-T1 molecule. Instead, it interacts with the different hydrophobic surface of the protein molecule formed by the residues Tyr-276, Trp-310, and Phe-356. Results from the present and previous studies suggest that β4Gal-T1 molecule has two different oligosaccharide binding regions for the binding of the extended oligosaccharide moiety of the acceptor substrate.
PMCID: PMC3436570  PMID: 22740701
Enzyme Kinetics; Enzyme Structure; Glycosyltransferases; Oligosaccharide; Structural Biology; Multiple Carbohydrate Binding Site; Beta-4Gal-T1; i/I-Antigen Synthesis
20.  Proteophosphoglycan confers resistance of Leishmania major to midgut digestive enzymes induced by blood feeding in vector sand flies 
Cellular microbiology  2010;12(7):906-918.
Leishmania synthesize abundant phosphoglycan-containing molecules made up of [Gal-Man-PO4] repeating units, including the surface lipophosphoglycan (LPG), and the surface and secreted proteophosphoglycan (PPG). The vector competence of Phlebotomus duboscqi and Lutzomyia longipalpis sand flies was tested using L. major knockout mutants deficient in either total phosphoglycans (lpg2− or lpg5A−/5B−) or LPG alone (lpg1−) along with their respective gene add-back controls. Our results confirm that LPG, the major cell surface molecule of Leishmania promastigotes known to mediate attachment to the vector midgut, is necessary to prevent the loss of infection during excretion of the blood meal remnants from a natural vector, P. duboscqi, but not an unnatural vector, L. longipalpis. Midgut digestive enzymes induced by blood feeding pose another potential barrier to parasite survival. Our results show that 36–72 h after the infective feed, all parasites developed well except the lpg2− and lpg5A−/5B− mutants, which showed significantly reduced survival and growth. Protease inhibitors promoted the early survival and growth of lpg2− in the blood meal. PPG was shown to be the key molecule conferring resistance to midgut digestive enzymes, as it prevented killing of lpg2− promastigotes exposed to midgut lysates prepared from blood-fed flies. The protection was not associated with inhibition of enzyme activities, but with cell surface acquisition of the PPG, which appears to function similar to mammalian mucins to protect the surface of developing promastigotes against proteolytic damage.
PMCID: PMC2891569  PMID: 20088949
21.  Why Does Escherichia coli Grow More Slowly on Glucosamine than on N-Acetylglucosamine? Effects of Enzyme Levels and Allosteric Activation of GlcN6P Deaminase (NagB) on Growth Rates 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(9):2974-2982.
Wild-type Escherichia coli grows more slowly on glucosamine (GlcN) than on N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) as a sole source of carbon. Both sugars are transported by the phosphotransferase system, and their 6-phospho derivatives are produced. The subsequent catabolism of the sugars requires the allosteric enzyme glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P) deaminase, which is encoded by nagB, and degradation of GlcNAc also requires the nagA-encoded enzyme, N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcNAc6P) deacetylase. We investigated various factors which could affect growth on GlcN and GlcNAc, including the rate of GlcN uptake, the level of induction of the nag operon, and differential allosteric activation of GlcN6P deaminase. We found that for strains carrying a wild-type deaminase (nagB) gene, increasing the level of the NagB protein or the rate of GlcN uptake increased the growth rate, which showed that both enzyme induction and sugar transport were limiting. A set of point mutations in nagB that are known to affect the allosteric behavior of GlcN6P deaminase in vitro were transferred to the nagB gene on the Escherichia coli chromosome, and their effects on the growth rates were measured. Mutants in which the substrate-induced positive cooperativity of NagB was reduced or abolished grew even more slowly on GlcN than on GlcNAc or did not grow at all on GlcN. Increasing the amount of the deaminase by using a nagC or nagA mutation to derepress the nag operon improved growth. For some mutants, a nagA mutation, which caused the accumulation of the allosteric activator GlcNAc6P and permitted allosteric activation, had a stronger effect than nagC. The effects of the mutations on growth in vivo are discussed in light of their in vitro kinetics.
PMCID: PMC1082822  PMID: 15838023
22.  Oral monosaccharide therapies to reverse renal and muscle hyposialylation in a mouse model of GNE myopathy 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2012;107(4):748-755.
GNE myopathy, previously termed hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM), is an adult-onset neuromuscular disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness. The disorder results from biallelic mutations in GNE, encoding UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase/N-acetylmannosamine kinase, the key enzyme of sialic acid synthesis. GNE myopathy, associated with impaired glycan sialylation, has no approved therapy. Here we test potential sialylation-increasing monosaccharides for their effectiveness in prophylaxis (at the embryonic and neonatal stages) and therapy (after the onset of symptoms) by evaluating renal and muscle hyposialylation in a knock-in mouse model (Gne p.M712T) of GNE myopathy. We demonstrate that oral mannosamine (ManN), but not sialic acid (Neu5Ac), mannose (Man), galactose (Gal), or glucosamine (GlcN), administered to pregnant female mice has a similar prophylactic effect on renal hyposialylation, pathology and neonatal survival of mutant offspring, as previously shown for N-acetylmannosamine (ManNAc) therapy. ManN may be converted to ManNAc by a direct, yet unknown, pathway, or may act through another mode of action. The other sugars (Man, Gal, GlcN) may either not cross the placental barrier (Neu5Ac) and/or may be able to directly increase sialylation. Because GNE myopathy patients will likely require treatment in adulthood after onset of symptoms, we also administered ManNAc (1 or 2 g/kg/day for 12 weeks), Neu5Ac (2g/kg/day for 12 weeks), or ManN (2g/kg/day for 6 weeks) in drinking water to 6 month old mutant Gne p.M712T mice. All three therapies markedly improved the muscle and renal hyposialylation, as evidenced by lectin histochemistry for overall sialylation status and immunoblotting of specific sialoproteins. These preclinical data strongly support further evaluation of oral ManNAc, Neu5Ac and ManN as therapy for GNE myopathy and conceivably for certain glomerular diseases with hyposialylation.
PMCID: PMC3504164  PMID: 23122659
glomerulopathy; hyposialylation; mannosamine; myopathy; sialic acid; UDP-GlcNAc-2-epimerase/ManNAc kinase
23.  Introducing N-glycans into natural products through a chemoenzymatic approach** 
Carbohydrate research  2008;343(17):2903-2913.
The present study describes an efficient chemoenzymatic method for introducing a core N-glycan of glycoprotein origin into various lipophilic natural products. It was found that the endo-β-N-acetylglucosaminidase from Arthrobactor protophormiae (Endo-A) had broad substrate specificity and can accommodate a wide range of glucose (Glc)- or N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc)-containing natural products as acceptors for transglycosylation, when an N-glycan oxazoline was used as a donor substrate. Using lithocholic acid as a model compound, we have shown that introduction of an N-glycan could be achieved by a two-step approach: chemical glycosylation to introduce a monosaccharide (Glc or GlcNAc) as a handle, and then Endo-A catalyzed transglycosylation to accomplish the site-specific N-glycan attachment. For those natural products that already carry terminal Glc or GlcNAc residues, direct enzymatic transglycosylation using sugar oxazoline as the donor substrate was achievable to introduce an N-glycan. It was also demonstrated that simultaneous double glycosylation could be fulfilled when the natural product contains two Glc residues. This chemoenzymatic method is concise, site-specific, and highly convergent. Because N-glycans of glycoprotein origin can serve as ligands for diverse lectins and cell-surface receptors, introduction of a defined N-glycan into biologically significant natural products may bestow novel properties onto these natural products for drug discovery and development.
PMCID: PMC2783379  PMID: 18805520
Natural product; Glycosylation; Enzymatic transglycosylation; Endoglycosidase; Sugar oxazoline
24.  Leishmania major Survival in Selective Phlebotomus papatasi Sand Fly Vector Requires a Specific SCG-Encoded Lipophosphoglycan Galactosylation Pattern 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(11):e1001185.
Phlebotomine sand flies that transmit the protozoan parasite Leishmania differ greatly in their ability to support different parasite species or strains in the laboratory: while some show considerable selectivity, others are more permissive. In “selective” sand flies, Leishmania binding and survival in the fly midgut typically depends upon the abundant promastigote surface adhesin lipophosphoglycan (LPG), which exhibits species- and strain-specific modifications of the dominant phosphoglycan (PG) repeat units. For the “selective” fly Phlebotomus papatasi PpapJ, side chain galactosyl-modifications (scGal) of PG repeats play key roles in parasite binding. We probed the specificity and properties of this scGal-LPG PAMP (Pathogen Associated Molecular Pattern) through studies of natural isolates exhibiting a wide range of galactosylation patterns, and of a panel of isogenic L. major engineered to express similar scGal-LPG diversity by transfection of SCG-encoded β1,3-galactosyltransferases with different activities. Surprisingly, both ‘poly-scGal’ and ‘null-scGal’ lines survived poorly relative to PpapJ-sympatric L. major FV1 and other ‘mono-scGal’ lines. However, survival of all lines was equivalent in P. duboscqi, which naturally transmit L. major strains bearing ‘null-scGal’-LPG PAMPs. We then asked whether scGal-LPG-mediated interactions were sufficient for PpapJ midgut survival by engineering Leishmania donovani, which normally express unsubstituted LPG, to express a ‘PpapJ-optimal’ scGal-LPG PAMP. Unexpectedly, these “L. major FV1-cloaked” L. donovani-SCG lines remained unable to survive within PpapJ flies. These studies establish that midgut survival of L. major in PpapJ flies is exquisitely sensitive to the scGal-LPG PAMP, requiring a specific ‘mono-scGal’ pattern. However, failure of ‘mono-scGal’ L. donovani-SCG lines to survive in selective PpapJ flies suggests a requirement for an additional, as yet unidentified L. major-specific parasite factor(s). The interplay of the LPG PAMP and additional factor(s) with sand fly midgut receptors may determine whether a given sand fly host is “selective” or “permissive”, with important consequences to both disease transmission and the natural co-evolution of sand flies and Leishmania.
Author Summary
Phlebotomine sand flies are tiny blood-feeding insects that transmit Leishmania protozoan parasites, which cause diseases afflicting millions of people. The world-wide distribution of Leishmania is determined by the availability of transmission-competent vectors. In the laboratory, some vectors support many different Leishmania, while others are highly restricted. This is best exemplified by P. papatasi, which transmit only L. major despite a wide distribution in regions endemic for many Leishmania species. P. papatasi “selectivity” can be reproduced experimentally, and has been attributed to β1,3-linked galactose side chains decorating the abundant L. major surface lipophosphoglycan (LPG) adhesin, which mediate parasite attachment to the P. papatasi midgut to prevent elimination when the digested blood meal is excreted. As geographically diverse L. major display very different LPG galactosylation patterns (n = 0 - 8 βGals/side chain), we explored the consequences of this pattern diversity to survival in P. papatasi. Using natural isolates and L. major lines engineered to express a wide range of LPG galactosylation patterns, we showed L. major survival in P. papatasi PpapJ flies was optimized by expression of highly modified ‘mono-galactosylated’ LPG and extremely sensitive to LPG side chain length. Surprisingly, L. donovani lines engineered to express a “PpapJ-optimal” LPG mono-galactosylation pattern did not survive in PpapJ flies, suggesting that additional interactions are required. These studies reveal the fine specificity of Leishmania - sand fly interactions, and the nature of species- and strain-specific parasite molecules that have co-evolved to take advantage of midgut receptors specific to available sand fly vectors.
PMCID: PMC2978724  PMID: 21085609
25.  Structural Elucidation of Diglycosyl Diacylglycerol and Monoglycosyl Diacylglycerol from Streptococcus pneumoniae by Multiple-Stage Linear Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometry with Electrospray Ionization 
The cell wall of the pathogenic bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) contains glucopyranosyl diacylglycerol (GlcDAG) and galactoglucopyranosyldiacylglycerol (GalGlcDAG). The specific GlcDAG consisting of vaccenic acid substituent at sn-2 was recently identified as another glycolipid antigen family recognized by invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells). Here, we describe a linear ion-trap (LIT) multiple-stage (MSn) mass spectrometric approach towards structural analysis of GalGlcDAG and GlcDAG. Structural information derived from MSn (n = 2,3) on the [M + Li]+ adduct ions desorbed by electrospray ionization (ESI) affords identification of the fatty acid substituents, assignment of the fatty acyl groups on the glycerol backbone, as well as the location of double bond along the fatty acyl chain. The identification of the fatty acyl groups and determination of their regio-specificity were confirmed by MSn (n = 2,3) on the [M + NH4]+ ions. We establish the structures of GalGlcDAG and GlcDAG isolated from S. pneumoniae, in which the major species consists of a 16:1- or 18:1-fatty acid substituent mainly at sn-2, and the double bond of the fatty acid is located at ω-7 (n-7). More than one isomers were found for each mass in the family. This mass spectrometric approach provides a simple method to achieve structure identification of this important lipid family that would be very difficult to define using the traditional method.
PMCID: PMC3712276  PMID: 22282097
Diglycosyl Diacylglycerol; Monoglycosyl Diacylglycerol; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Glycolipids; Ion-trap mass spectrometry; ESI; Lithium adduct ion

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