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1.  Long range molecular dynamics study of regulation of eukaryotic glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase activity by UDP-GlcNAc 
Journal of Molecular Modeling  2011;17(12):3103-3115.
Glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6-P) synthase catalyses the first and practically irreversible step in hexosamine metabolism. The final product of this pathway, uridine 5’ diphospho N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), is an essential substrate for assembly of bacterial and fungal cell walls. Moreover, the enzyme is involved in phenomenon of hexosamine induced insulin resistance in type II diabetes, which makes it a potential target for antifungal, antibacterial and antidiabetic therapy. The crystal structure of the isomerase domain of GlcN-6-P synthase from human pathogenic fungus Candida albicans, in complex with UDP-GlcNAc has been solved recently but it has not revealed the molecular mechanism of inhibition taking place under UDP-GlcNAc influence, the unique feature of the eukaryotic enzyme. UDP-GlcNAc is a physiological inhibitor of GlcN-6-P synthase, binding about 1 nm away from the active site of the enzyme. In the present work, comparative molecular dynamics simulations of the free and UDP-GlcNAc-bounded structures of GlcN-6-P synthase have been performed. The aim was to complete static X-ray structural data and detect possible changes in the dynamics of the two structures. Results of the simulation studies demonstrated higher mobility of the free structure when compared to the liganded one. Several amino acid residues were identified, flexibility of which is strongly affected upon UDP-GlcNAc binding. Importantly, the most fixed residues are those related to the inhibitor binding process and to the catalytic reaction. The obtained results constitute an important step toward understanding of mechanism of GlcN-6-P synthase inhibition by UDP-GlcNAc molecule.
PMCID: PMC3224219  PMID: 21360186
Cosine content; Glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase; Molecular dynamics; Principal component analysis; UDP-GlcNAc
2.  Identification of Novel Acetyltransferase Activity on the Thermostable Protein ST0452 from Sulfolobus tokodaii Strain 7▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(13):3287-3293.
A 401-residue-long protein, ST0452, has been identified from a thermophilic archaeon, Sulfolobus tokodaii strain 7, as a glucose-1-phosphate thymidylyltransferase (Glc-1-P TTase) homolog with a 170-residue-long extra C-terminus portion. Functional analyses of the ST0452 protein have confirmed that the protein possessed dual sugar-1-phosphate nucleotidylyltransferase (sugar-1-P NTase) activities. The 24 repeats of a signature motif sequence which has been found in bacterial acetyltransferases, (L/I/V)-(G/A/E/D)-XX-(S/T/A/V)-X, were detected at the C terminus of the ST0452 protein. This observation prompted our group to investigate the acetyltransferase activity of the ST0452 protein. Detection of the release of coenzyme A (CoA) from acetyl-CoA and the production of UDP-N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) from glucosamine-1-phosphate (GlcN-1-P) and UTP in the presence of the ST0452 protein revealed that this protein possesses the GlcN-1-P-specific acetyltransferase activity. In addition, analyses of substrate specificity showed that acetyltransferase activity of the ST0452 protein is capable of catalyzing the change of galactosamine-1-phosphate (GalN-1-P) to N-acetyl-d-galactosamine-1-phosphate (GalNAc-1-P) as well as GlcN-1-P and that its sugar-1-P NTase activity is capable of producing UDP-GalNAc from GalNAc-1-P and UTP. This is the first report of a thermostable bifunctional enzyme with GalN-1-P acetyltransferase and GalNAc-1-P uridyltransferase activities. The observation reveals that the bacteria-type UDP-GlcNAc biosynthetic pathway from fructose-6-phospate is utilized in this archaeon and represents a novel biosynthetic pathway for producing UDP-GalNAc from GalN-1-P in this microorganism.
PMCID: PMC2897684  PMID: 20400541
3.  Enzymatic Synthesis of Lipid A Molecules with Four Amide-linked Acyl Chains 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2004;279(24):25411-25419.
LpxA of Escherichia coli catalyzes the acylation of the glucosamine 3-OH group of UDP-GlcNAc, using R-3-hydroxymyristoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) as the donor substrate. We now demonstrate that LpxA in cell extracts of Mesorhizobium loti and Leptospira interrogans, which synthesize lipid A molecules containing 2,3-diamino-2,3-dideoxy-D-glucopyranose (GlcN3N) units in place of glucosamine, do not acylate UDP-GlcNAc. Instead, these LpxA acyltransferases require a UDP-GlcNAc derivative (designated UDP 2-acetamido-3-amino-2,3-dideoxy-α-D-glucopyranose or UDP-GlcNAc3N), characterized in the preceding paper (Sweet, C. R., Ribeiro, A. A., and Raetz, C. R. H. (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 25400–25410), in which an amine replaces the glucosamine 3-OH group. L. interrogans LpxA furthermore displays absolute selectivity for 3-hydroxylauroyl-ACP as the donor, whereas M. loti LpxA functions almost equally well with 10-, 12-, and 14-carbon 3-hydroxyacyl-ACPs. The substrate selectivity of L. interrogans LpxA is consistent with the structure of L. interrogans lipid A. The mechanism of L. interrogans LpxA appears to be similar to that of E. coli LpxA, given that the essential His125 residue of E. coli LpxA is conserved and is also required for acyltransferase activity in L. interrogans. Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans (an organism that makes lipid A molecules containing both GlcN and GlcN3N) has an ortholog of LpxA that is selective for UDP-GlcNAc3N, but the enzyme also catalyzes the acylation of UDP-GlcNAc at a slow rate. E. coli LpxA acylates UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-GlcNAc3N at comparable rates in vitro. However, UDP-GlcNAc3N is not synthesized in vivo, because E. coli lacks gnnA and gnnB. When the latter are supplied together with A. ferrooxidans lpxA, E. coli incorporates a significant amount of GlcN3N into its lipid A.
PMCID: PMC2597548  PMID: 15044493
4.  Structure and function of GlmU from Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
The crystal structure of M. tuberculosis GlmU has been determined in an unliganded form and in complex with UDP-GlcNAc or GlcN-1-P. NMR-based enzymatic activity assays suggest that the presence of acetyl-coenzyme A has an inhibitory effect on uridyltransferase activity.
Antibiotic resistance is a major issue in the treatment of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. Existing antibiotics target only a few cellular pathways and there is an urgent need for antibiotics that have novel molecular mechanisms. The glmU gene is essential in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, being required for optimal bacterial growth, and has been selected as a possible drug target for structural and functional investigation. GlmU is a bifunctional acetyltransferase/uridyltransferase that catalyses the formation of UDP-GlcNAc from GlcN-1-P. UDP-GlcNAc is a substrate for two important biosynthetic pathways: lipopolysaccharide and peptidoglycan synthesis. The crystal structure of M. tuberculosis GlmU has been determined in an unliganded form and in complex with GlcNAc-1-P or UDP-GlcNAc. The structures reveal the residues that are responsible for substrate binding. Enzyme activities were characterized by 1H NMR and suggest that the presence of acetyl-coenzyme A has an inhibitory effect on uridyltransferase activity.
PMCID: PMC2651758  PMID: 19237750
GlmU; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; acetyltransferases; uridyltransferases; drug discovery
5.  Characterization, Localization, Essentiality, and High-Resolution Crystal Structure of Glucosamine 6-Phosphate N-Acetyltransferase from Trypanosoma brucei ▿ ‡ § 
Eukaryotic Cell  2011;10(7):985-997.
A gene predicted to encode Trypanosoma brucei glucosamine 6-phosphate N-acetyltransferase (TbGNA1; EC was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant protein was enzymatically active, and its high-resolution crystal structure was obtained at 1.86 Å. Endogenous TbGNA1 protein was localized to the peroxisome-like microbody, the glycosome. A bloodstream-form T. brucei GNA1 conditional null mutant was constructed and shown to be unable to sustain growth in vitro under nonpermissive conditions, demonstrating that there are no metabolic or nutritional routes to UDP-GlcNAc other than via GlcNAc-6-phosphate. Analysis of the protein glycosylation phenotype of the TbGNA1 mutant under nonpermissive conditions revealed that poly-N-acetyllactosamine structures were greatly reduced in the parasite and that the glycosylation profile of the principal parasite surface coat component, the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG), was modified. The significance of results and the potential of TbGNA1 as a novel drug target for African sleeping sickness are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3147419  PMID: 21531872
6.  The eggshell is required for meiotic fidelity, polar-body extrusion and polarization of the C. elegans embryo 
BMC Biology  2006;4:35.
Fertilization restores the diploid state and begins the process by which the single-cell oocyte is converted into a polarized, multicellular organism. In the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, two of the earliest events following fertilization are secretion of the chitinous eggshell and completion of meiosis, and in this report we demonstrate that the eggshell is essential for multiple developmental events at the one-cell stage.
We show that the GLD (Germline differentiation abnormal)-1-regulated hexosamine pathway enzyme, glucosamine-6-phosphate N-acetyltransferase (GNA)-2, is required for synthesis of uridine diphosphate-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), the substrate for eggshell chitin synthesis by chitin synthase-1 (CHS-1). Furthermore, while chs-1(RNAi) or combined RNAi with the chitin-binding proteins, CEJ-1 and B0280.5, does not interfere with normal meiotic timing, lagging chromosomes are observed at meiosis, and polar-body extrusion fails. We also demonstrate that chitin, and either CEJ-1 or B0280.5, are essential for the osmotic/permeability barrier and for movement of the sperm pronucleus/centrosome complex to the cortex, which is associated with the initiation of polarization.
Our results indicate that the eggshell is required in single-cell C. elegans development, playing an essential role in multiple actin-dependent early events. Furthermore, the earliest meiotic roles precede osmotic barrier formation, indicating that the role of the eggshell is not limited to generation of the osmotic barrier.
PMCID: PMC1635065  PMID: 17042944
7.  Acetamido Sugar Biosynthesis in the Euryarchaea▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(8):2987-2996.
Archaea and eukaryotes share a dolichol phosphate-dependent system for protein N-glycosylation. In both domains, the acetamido sugar N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) forms part of the core oligosaccharide. However, the archaeal Methanococcales produce GlcNAc using the bacterial biosynthetic pathway. Key enzymes in this pathway belong to large families of proteins with diverse functions; therefore, the archaeal enzymes could not be identified solely using comparative sequence analysis. Genes encoding acetamido sugar-biosynthetic proteins were identified in Methanococcus maripaludis using phylogenetic and gene cluster analyses. Proteins expressed in Escherichia coli were purified and assayed for the predicted activities. The MMP1680 protein encodes a universally conserved glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase. The MMP1077 phosphomutase converted α-d-glucosamine-6-phosphate to α-d-glucosamine-1-phosphate, although this protein is more closely related to archaeal pentose and glucose phosphomutases than to bacterial glucosamine phosphomutases. The thermostable MJ1101 protein catalyzed both the acetylation of glucosamine-1-phosphate and the uridylyltransferase reaction with UTP to produce UDP-GlcNAc. The MMP0705 protein catalyzed the C-2 epimerization of UDP-GlcNAc, and the MMP0706 protein used NAD+ to oxidize UDP-N-acetylmannosamine, forming UDP-N-acetylmannosaminuronate (ManNAcA). These two proteins are similar to enzymes used for proteobacterial lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis and gram-positive bacterial capsule production, suggesting a common evolutionary origin and a widespread distribution of ManNAcA. UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-ManNAcA biosynthesis evolved early in the euryarchaeal lineage, because most of their genomes contain orthologs of the five genes characterized here. These UDP-acetamido sugars are predicted to be precursors for flagellin and S-layer protein modifications and for the biosynthesis of methanogenic coenzyme B.
PMCID: PMC2293230  PMID: 18263721
Biochemistry  2010;49(38):8398-8414.
Bacillithiol (Cys-GlcN-malate, BSH) has recently been identified as a novel low-molecular-weight thiol in Bacillus anthracis, Staphylococcus aureus, and several other Gram-positive bacteria lacking glutathione and mycothiol. We have now characterized the first two enzymes for the BSH biosynthetic pathway in B. anthracis, which combine to produce α-D-glucosaminyl L-malate (GlcN-malate) from UDP-GlcNAc and L-malate. The structure of the GlcNAc-malate intermediate has been determined, as have the kinetic parameters for the BaBshA glycosyltransferase (→GlcNAc-malate) and the BaBshB deacetylase (→GlcN-malate). BSH is one of only two natural products reported to contain a malyl glycoside, and the crystal structure of the BaBshA-UDP-malate ternary complex, determined in this work at 3.3 Å resolution, identifies several active-site interactions important for the specific recognition of L-malate, but not other α-hydroxyacids, as acceptor substrate. In sharp contrast to the structures reported for the GlcNAc—1-D-myo-inositol-3-phosphate synthase (MshA) apo and ternary complex forms, there is no major conformational change observed in the structures of the corresponding BaBshA forms. A mutant strain of B. anthracis deficient in the BshA glycosyltransferase fails to produce BSH, as predicted. This B. anthracis bshA locus (BA1558) has been identified in a transposon site hybridization study as required for growth, sporulation, or germination, suggesting that the biosynthesis of BSH could represent a target for development of novel antimicrobials with broad spectrum activity against Gram-positive pathogens like B. anthracis. The metabolites that function in thiol redox buffering and homeostasis in Bacillus are not well understood, and we present a composite picture based on this and other recent work.
PMCID: PMC2943542  PMID: 20799687
9.  Regulatory insights into the production of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine by Lactobacillus casei 
Bioengineered  2012;3(6):339-342.
UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) is an important sugar nucleotide used as a precursor of cell wall components in bacteria, and as a substrate in the synthesis of oligosaccharides in eukaryotes. In bacteria UDP-GlcNAc is synthesized from the glycolytic intermediate D-fructose-6-phosphate (fructose-6P) by four successive reactions catalyzed by three enzymes: glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase (GlmS), phosphoglucosamine mutase (GlmM) and the bi-functional enzyme glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase/ N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GlmU). We have previously reported a metabolic engineering strategy in Lactobacillus casei directed to increase the intracellular levels of UDP-GlcNAc by homologous overexpression of the genes glmS, glmM and glmU. One of the most remarkable features regarding the production of UDP-GlcNAc in L. casei was to find multiple regulation points on its biosynthetic pathway: (1) regulation by the NagB enzyme, (2) glmS RNA specific degradation through the possible participation of a glmS riboswitch mechanism, (3) regulation of the GlmU activity probably by end product inhibition and (4) transcription of glmU.
PMCID: PMC3489710  PMID: 22825354
UDP-N-acetylglucosamine; Lactobacillus; glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase; phosphoglucosamine mutase; glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase; N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridyltransferase
10.  N-acetylglucosamine 6-Phosphate Deacetylase (nagA) Is Required for N-acetyl Glucosamine Assimilation in Gluconacetobacter xylinus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e18099.
Metabolic pathways for amino sugars (N-acetylglucosamine; GlcNAc and glucosamine; Gln) are essential and remain largely conserved in all three kingdoms of life, i.e., microbes, plants and animals. Upon uptake, in the cytoplasm these amino sugars undergo phosphorylation by phosphokinases and subsequently deacetylation by the enzyme N-acetylglucosamine 6-phosphate deacetylase (nagA) to yield glucosamine-6-phosphate and acetate, the first committed step for both GlcNAc assimilation and amino-sugar-nucleotides biosynthesis. Here we report the cloning of a DNA fragment encoding a partial nagA gene and its implications with regard to amino sugar metabolism in the cellulose producing bacterium Glucoacetobacter xylinus (formally known as Acetobacter xylinum). For this purpose, nagA was disrupted by inserting tetracycline resistant gene (nagA::tetr; named as ΔnagA) via homologous recombination. When compared to glucose fed conditions, the UDP-GlcNAc synthesis and bacterial growth (due to lack of GlcNAc utilization) was completely inhibited in nagA mutants. Interestingly, that inhibition occured without compromising cellulose production efficiency and its molecular composition under GlcNAc fed conditions. We conclude that nagA plays an essential role for GlcNAc assimilation by G. xylinus thus is required for the growth and survival for the bacterium in presence of GlcNAc as carbon source. Additionally, G. xylinus appears to possess the same molecular machinery for UDP-GlcNAc biosynthesis from GlcNAc precursors as other related bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC3107205  PMID: 21655093
11.  Peracetylated 4-Fluoro-glucosamine Reduces the Content and Repertoire of N- and O-Glycans without Direct Incorporation* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(24):21717-21731.
Prior studies have shown that treatment with the peracetylated 4-fluorinated analog of glucosamine (4-F-GlcNAc) elicits anti-skin inflammatory activity by ablating N-acetyllactosamine (LacNAc), sialyl Lewis X (sLeX), and related lectin ligands on effector leukocytes. Based on anti-sLeX antibody and lectin probing experiments on 4-F-GlcNAc-treated leukocytes, it was hypothesized that 4-F-GlcNAc inhibited sLeX formation by incorporating into LacNAc and blocking the addition of galactose or fucose at the carbon 4-position of 4-F-GlcNAc. To test this hypothesis, we determined whether 4-F-GlcNAc is directly incorporated into N- and O-glycans released from 4-F-GlcNAc-treated human sLeX (+) T cells and leukemic KG1a cells. At concentrations that abrogated galectin-1 (Gal-1) ligand and E-selectin ligand expression and related LacNAc and sLeX structures, MALDI-TOF and MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry analyses showed that 4-F-GlcNAc 1) reduced content and structural diversity of tri- and tetra-antennary N-glycans and of O-glycans, 2) increased biantennary N-glycans, and 3) reduced LacNAc and sLeX on N-glycans and on core 2 O-glycans. Moreover, MALDI-TOF MS did not reveal any m/z ratios relating to the presence of fluorine atoms, indicating that 4-F-GlcNAc did not incorporate into glycans. Further analysis showed that 4-F-GlcNAc treatment had minimal effect on expression of 1200 glycome-related genes and did not alter the activity of LacNAc-synthesizing enzymes. However, 4-F-GlcNAc dramatically reduced intracellular levels of uridine diphosphate-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), a key precursor of LacNAc synthesis. These data show that Gal-1 and E-selectin ligand reduction by 4-F-GlcNAc is not caused by direct 4-F-GlcNAc glycan incorporation and consequent chain termination but rather by interference with UDP-GlcNAc synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3122228  PMID: 21493714
Adhesion; Carbohydrate; Carbohydrate Structure; Glycoprotein Structure; Glycosylation Inhibitors; Lectin
12.  Glucosamine induces cell death via proteasome inhibition in human ALVA41 prostate cancer cell 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2011;43(9):487-493.
Glucosamine, a naturally occurring amino monosaccharide, has been reported to play a role in the regulation of apoptosis more than half century. However the effect of glucosamine on tumor cells and the involved molecular mechanisms have not been thoroughly investigated. Glucosamine enters the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) downstream of the rate-limiting step catalyzed by the GFAT (glutamine:fluctose-6-phosphate amidotransferase), providing UDP-GlcNAc substrates for O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) protein modification. Considering that O-GlcNAc modification of proteasome subunits inhibits its activity, we examined whether glucosamine induces growth inhibition via affecting proteasomal activity. In the present study, we found glucosamine inhibited proteasomal activity and the proliferation of ALVA41 prostate cancer cells. The inhibition of proteasomal activity results in the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, followed by induction of apoptosis. In addition, we demonstrated that glucosamine downregulated proteasome activator PA28γ and overexpression of PA28γ rescued the proteasomal activity and growth inhibition mediated by glucosamine. We further demonstrated that inhibition of O-GlcNAc abrogated PA28γ suppression induced by glucosamine. These findings suggest that glucosamine may inhibit growth of ALVA41 cancer cells through downregulation of PA28γ and inhibition of proteasomal activity via O-GlcNAc modification.
PMCID: PMC3203238  PMID: 21697645
apoptosis; glucosamine; glycosylation; Ki antigen; prostatic neoplasms; proteasome
13.  Engineering of N-acetylglucosamine metabolism for improved antibiotic production in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) and an unsuspected role of NagA in glucosamine metabolism 
Bioengineered  2012;3(5):280-285.
N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), the monomer of chitin and constituent of bacterial peptidoglycan, is a preferred carbon and nitrogen source for streptomycetes. Recent studies have revealed new functions of GlcNAc in nutrient signaling of bacteria. Exposure to GlcNAc activates development and antibiotic production of Streptomyces coelicolor under poor growth conditions (famine) and blocks these processes under rich conditions (feast). Glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6P) is a key molecule in this signaling pathway and acts as an allosteric effector of a pleiotropic transcriptional repressor DasR, the regulon of which includes the GlcNAc metabolic enzymes N-actetylglucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcNAc-6P) deacetylase (NagA) and GlcN-6P deaminase (NagB). Intracellular accumulation of GlcNAc-6P and GlcN-6P enhanced production of the pigmented antibiotic actinorhodin. When the nagB mutant was challenged with GlcNAc or GlcN, spontaneous second-site mutations that relieved the toxicity of the accumulated sugar phosphates were obtained. Surprisingly, deletion of nagA also relieved toxicity of GlcN, indicating novel linkage between the GlcN and GlcNAc utilization pathways. The strongly enhanced antibiotic production observed for many suppressor mutants shows the potential of the modulation of GlcNAc and GlcN metabolism as a metabolic engineering tool toward the improvement of antibiotic productivity or even the discovery of novel compounds.
PMCID: PMC3477696  PMID: 22892576
metabolism; aminosugar; signaling; glycolysis; secondary metabolism; sporulation
14.  N-Acetylglucosamine Utilization by Saccharomyces cerevisiae Based on Expression of Candida albicans NAG Genes ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(18):5840-5845.
Synthesis of chitin de novo from glucose involves a linear pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Several of the pathway genes, including GNA1, are essential. Genes for chitin catabolism are absent in S. cerevisiae. Therefore, S. cerevisiae cannot use chitin as a carbon source. Chitin is the second most abundant polysaccharide after cellulose and consists of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) moieties. Here, we have generated S. cerevisiae strains that are able to use GlcNAc as a carbon source by expressing four Candida albicans genes (NAG3 or its NAG4 paralog, NAG5, NAG2, and NAG1) encoding a GlcNAc permease, a GlcNAc kinase, a GlcNAc-6-phosphate deacetylase, and a glucosamine-6-phosphate deaminase, respectively. Expression of NAG3 and NAG5 or NAG4 and NAG5 in S. cerevisiae resulted in strains in which the otherwise-essential ScGNA1 could be deleted. These strains required the presence of GlcNAc in the medium, indicating that uptake of GlcNAc and its phosphorylation were achieved. Expression of all four NAG genes produced strains that could use GlcNAc as the sole carbon source for growth. Utilization of a GlcNAc catabolic pathway for bioethanol production using these strains was tested. However, fermentation was slow and yielded only minor amounts of ethanol (approximately 3.0 g/liter), suggesting that fructose-6-phosphate produced from GlcNAc under these conditions is largely consumed to maintain cellular functions and promote growth. Our results present the first step toward tapping a novel, renewable carbon source for biofuel production.
PMCID: PMC2747872  PMID: 19648376
15.  Differential metabolic effects of glucosamine and N-acetylglucosamine in human articular chondrocytes 
Aminosugars are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis; however, molecular mechanisms mediating their anti-arthritic activities are still poorly understood. This study analyzes facilitated transport and metabolic effects of glucosamine (GlcN) and N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) in human articular chondrocytes.
Human articular chondrocytes were isolated from knee cartilage. Facilitated transport of glucose, GlcN and GlcNAc was measured by uptake of [3H]2-deoxyglucose, [3H]GlcN and [3H]GlcNAc. Glucose transporter (GLUT) expression was analyzed by Western blotting. Production of sulfated glycosaminoglycans (SGAG) was measured using [35S]SO4. Hyaluronan was quantified using hyaluronan binding protein.
Chondrocytes actively import and metabolize GlcN but not GlcNAc and this represents a cell-type specific phenomenon. Similar to facilitated glucose transport, GlcN transport in chondrocytes is accelerated by cytokines and growth factors. GlcN non-competitively inhibits basal glucose transport, which in part depends on GlcN-mediated depletion of ATP stores. In IL-1β-stimulated chondrocytes, GlcN inhibits membrane translocation of GLUT1 and 6, but does not affect the expression of GLUT3. In contrast to GlcN, GlcNAc accelerates facilitated glucose transport. In parallel with the opposing actions of these aminosugars on glucose transport, GlcN inhibits hyaluronan and SGAG synthesis while GlcNAc stimulates hyaluronan synthesis. GlcNAc-accelerated hyaluronan synthesis is associated with upregulation of hyaluronan synthase-2.
Differences in GlcN and GlcNAc uptake, and their subsequent effects on glucose transport, GLUT expression and SGAG and hyaluronan synthesis, indicate that these two aminosugars have distinct molecular mechanisms mediating their differential biological activities in chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC2785807  PMID: 19332174
glucosamine; N-acetylglucosamine; chondrocytes; osteoarthritis
16.  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
17.  Steady-State Kinetics and Mechanism of LpxD, the N-Acyltransferase of Lipid A Biosynthesis 
Biochemistry  2008;47(19):5290-5302.
LpxD catalyzes the third step of lipid A biosynthesis, the R-3-hydroxymyristoyl-acyl carrier protein (R-3-OHC14-ACP)-dependent N-acylation of UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-α-D-glucosamine [UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN]. We have now over-expressed and purified E. coli LpxD to homogeneity. Steady state kinetics suggest a compulsory ordered mechanism in which R-3-OHC14-ACP binds prior to UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN. The product, UDP-2,3-diacylglucosamine, dissociates prior to ACP; the latter is a competitive inhibitor against R-3-OHC14-ACP and a noncompetitive inhibitor against UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN. UDP-2-N-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-α-D-glucosamine, obtained by mild base hydrolysis of UDP-2,3-diacylglucosamine, is a noncompetitive inhibitor against both substrates. Synthetic R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine is an uncompetitive inhibitor against R-3-OHC14-ACP and a competitive inhibitor against UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN, but R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine is also a very poor substrate. A compulsory ordered mechanism is consistent with the fact that R-3-OHC14-ACP has a high binding affinity for free LpxD, whereas UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN does not. Divalent cations inhibit R-3-OHC14-ACP-dependent acylation but not R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine-dependent acylation, indicating that the acidic recognition helix of R-3-OHC14-ACP contributes to binding. The F41A mutation increases the KM for UDP-3-O-(R-3-OHC14)-GlcN 30-fold, consistent with aromatic stacking of the corresponding F43 side chain against the uracil moiety of bound UDP-GlcNAc in the x-ray structure of Chlamydia trachomatis LpxD. Mutagenesis implicates E. coli H239 but excludes H276 as the catalytic base, and neither residue is likely to stabilize the oxyanion intermediate.
PMCID: PMC2435086  PMID: 18422345
18.  Expression, essentiality, and a microtiter plate assay for mycobacterial GlmU, the bifunctional glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase and N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridyltransferase 
UDP-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) is an essential precursor of peptidoglycan and the rhamnose-GlcNAc linker region of mycobacterial cell wall. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv genome, Rv1018c shows strong homology to the GlmU protein involved in the formation of UDP-GlcNAc from other bacteria. GlmU is a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzes two sequential steps in UDP-GlcNAc biosynthesis. Glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyl transferase catalyzes the formation of N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate, and N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase catalyzes the formation of UDP-GlcNAc. Since inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis often results in cell lysis, M. tuberculosis GlmU is a potential anti-tuberculosis drug target. In this study we cloned M. tuberculosis Rv1018c (glmU gene) and expressed soluble GlmU protein in E. coli BL21(DE3). Enzymatic assays showed that M. tuberculosis GlmU protein exhibits both glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase and N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase activities. We also investigated the effect on Mycobacterium smegmatis when the activity of GlmU is fully removed or reduced via a genetic approach. The results showed that activity of GlmU is required for growth of M. smegmatis as the bacteria did not grow in the absence of active GlmU enzyme. As the amount of functional GlmU enzyme was gradually reduced in a temperature shift experiment, the M. smegmatis cells became non-viable and their morphology changed from a normal rod shape to stubby-rounded morphology and in some cases they lysed. Finally a microtiter plate based assay for GlmU activity with an OD340 read out was developed. These studies therefore support the further development of M. tuberculosis GlmU enzyme as a target for new anti-tuberculosis drugs.
PMCID: PMC2602953  PMID: 18573680
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Mycobacterium smegmatis; GlmU; glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase; N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase
19.  A novel deconvolution method for modeling UDP-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine biosynthetic pathways based on 13C mass isotopologue profiles under non-steady-state conditions 
BMC Biology  2011;9:37.
Stable isotope tracing is a powerful technique for following the fate of individual atoms through metabolic pathways. Measuring isotopic enrichment in metabolites provides quantitative insights into the biosynthetic network and enables flux analysis as a function of external perturbations. NMR and mass spectrometry are the techniques of choice for global profiling of stable isotope labeling patterns in cellular metabolites. However, meaningful biochemical interpretation of the labeling data requires both quantitative analysis and complex modeling. Here, we demonstrate a novel approach that involved acquiring and modeling the timecourses of 13C isotopologue data for UDP-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) synthesized from [U-13C]-glucose in human prostate cancer LnCaP-LN3 cells. UDP-GlcNAc is an activated building block for protein glycosylation, which is an important regulatory mechanism in the development of many prominent human diseases including cancer and diabetes.
We utilized a stable isotope resolved metabolomics (SIRM) approach to determine the timecourse of 13C incorporation from [U-13C]-glucose into UDP-GlcNAc in LnCaP-LN3 cells. 13C Positional isotopomers and isotopologues of UDP-GlcNAc were determined by high resolution NMR and Fourier transform-ion cyclotron resonance-mass spectrometry. A novel simulated annealing/genetic algorithm, called 'Genetic Algorithm for Isotopologues in Metabolic Systems' (GAIMS) was developed to find the optimal solutions to a set of simultaneous equations that represent the isotopologue compositions, which is a mixture of isotopomer species. The best model was selected based on information theory. The output comprises the timecourse of the individual labeled species, which was deconvoluted into labeled metabolic units, namely glucose, ribose, acetyl and uracil. The performance of the algorithm was demonstrated by validating the computed fractional 13C enrichment in these subunits against experimental data. The reproducibility and robustness of the deconvolution were verified by replicate experiments, extensive statistical analyses, and cross-validation against NMR data.
This computational approach revealed the relative fluxes through the different biosynthetic pathways of UDP-GlcNAc, which comprises simultaneous sequential and parallel reactions, providing new insight into the regulation of UDP-GlcNAc levels and O-linked protein glycosylation. This is the first such analysis of UDP-GlcNAc dynamics, and the approach is generally applicable to other complex metabolites comprising distinct metabolic subunits, where sufficient numbers of isotopologues can be unambiguously resolved and accurately measured.
PMCID: PMC3126751  PMID: 21627825
20.  Allosteric Regulation of Glucosamine-6-Phosphate Deaminase (NagB) and Growth of Escherichia coli on Glucosamine ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(20):6401-6407.
Growth on N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) produces intracellular N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcNAc6P), which affects the regulation of the catabolism of amino sugars in Escherichia coli in two ways. First, GlcNAc6P is the inducing signal for the NagC repressor, and thus it increases the expression of the enzymes of the nagE-nagBACD operon. Second, it is the allosteric activator of glucosamine-6P (GlcN6P) deaminase, NagB, and thus increases the catalytic capacity of this key enzyme in the metabolism of amino sugars. We showed previously that both the level of expression of the nagB gene and the transport of glucosamine were limiting the growth rate on GlcN (L. I. Álvarez-Añorve et al., J. Bacteriol. 187:2974-2982, 2005). We were unable to conclude if the lack of allosteric activation of wild-type NagB was also contributing to the slower growth rate on GlcN. Using a single-copy plasmid, with a constitutive promoter, we have separated the effects of GlcNAc6P on the NagB protein level and on deaminase activity. We show that over a range of intracellular NagB concentrations it is the quantity of the substrate, GlcN6P, which is limiting growth rather than the concentration of the allosteric activator, GlcNAc6P. On the other hand, the F174A mutant of NagB, which requires higher concentrations of GlcNAc6P for activity in vitro, grew better on GlcN in the presence of GlcNAc6P. However, wild-type NagB behaves as if it is already fully allosterically activated during growth on GlcN, and we present evidence suggesting that sufficient GlcNAc6P for allosteric activation is derived from the recycling of peptidoglycan.
PMCID: PMC2753035  PMID: 19700525
21.  Acute Regulation of Cardiac Metabolism by the Hexosamine Biosynthesis Pathway and Protein O-GlcNAcylation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18417.
The hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP) flux and protein O-linked N-acetyl-glucosamine (O-GlcNAc) levels have been implicated in mediating the adverse effects of diabetes in the cardiovascular system. Activation of these pathways with glucosamine has been shown to mimic some of the diabetes-induced functional and structural changes in the heart; however, the effect on cardiac metabolism is not known. Therefore, the primary goal of this study was to determine the effects of glucosamine on cardiac substrate utilization.
Isolated rat hearts were perfused with glucosamine (0–10 mM) to increase HBP flux under normoxic conditions. Metabolic fluxes were determined by 13C-NMR isotopomer analysis; UDP-GlcNAc a precursor of O-GlcNAc synthesis was assessed by HPLC and immunoblot analysis was used to determine O-GlcNAc levels, phospho- and total levels of AMPK and ACC, and membrane levels of FAT/CD36.
Glucosamine caused a dose dependent increase in both UDP-GlcNAc and O-GlcNAc levels, which was associated with a significant increase in palmitate oxidation with a concomitant decrease in lactate and pyruvate oxidation. There was no effect of glucosamine on AMPK or ACC phosphorylation; however, membrane levels of the fatty acid transport protein FAT/CD36 were increased and preliminary studies suggest that FAT/CD36 is a potential target for O-GlcNAcylation.
These data demonstrate that acute modulation of HBP and protein O-GlcNAcylation in the heart stimulates fatty acid oxidation, possibly by increasing plasma membrane levels of FAT/CD36, raising the intriguing possibility that the HBP and O-GlcNAc turnover represent a novel, glucose dependent mechanism for regulating cardiac metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3073970  PMID: 21494549
22.  Structural Basis for the Sugar Nucleotide and Acyl Chain Selectivity of Leptospira interrogans LpxA 
Biochemistry  2009;48(26):6191-6201.
The first step of lipid A biosynthesis is catalyzed by LpxA in Escherichia coli (EcLpxA), an acyltransferase selective for UDP-GlcNAc and R-3-hydroxymyristoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP). Leptospira interrogans LpxA (LiLpxA) is extremely selective for R-3-hydroxylauroyl-ACP and an analogue of UDP-GlcNAc, designated UDP-GlcNAc3N, in which NH2 replaces the GlcNAc 3-OH group. EcLpxA does not discriminate between UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-GlcNAc3N; however, E. coli does not make UDP-GlcNAc3N. With LiLpxA R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine efficiently substitutes for R-3-hydroxylauroyl-ACP. We now present crystal structures of free LiLpxA, and of its complexes with its product UDP-3-N-(R-3-hydroxylauroyl)-GlcNAc3N and with its substrate R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine. The positions of the acyl chains of the R-3-hydroxylauroyl-methylphosphopantetheine and of the UDP-3-N-(R-3-hydroxylauroyl)-GlcNAc3N are almost identical, and are similar to that of the acyl chain in the EcLpxA/UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-GlcNAc complex. The selectivity of LiLpxA for UDP-GlcNAc3N may be explained by the orientation of the backbone carbonyl group of Q68, which differs by ∼82° from the corresponding Q73 carbonyl group in EcLpxA. This arrangement provides an extra hydrogen bond acceptor for the 3-NH2 group of UDP-GlcNAc3N in LiLpxA. The R-3-hydroxylauroyl-selectivity of LiLpxA is explained by the position of the K171 side chain, which limits the length of the acyl chain-binding groove. Our results support the role of LiLpxA H120 (which corresponds to EcLpxA H125) as the catalytic base and provide the first structural information about the orientation of the phosphopantetheine moiety during LpxA catalysis.
PMCID: PMC2710806  PMID: 19456129
23.  Molecular Structure of WlbB, a Bacterial N-Acetyltransferase Involved in the Biosynthesis of 2,3-Diacetamido-2,3-Dideoxy-D-Mannuronic Acid 
Biochemistry  2010;49(22):4644-4653.
The pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bordetella pertussis contain in their outer membranes the rare sugar 2,3-diacetamido-2,3-dideoxy-D-mannuronic acid. Five enzymes are required for the biosynthesis of this sugar starting from UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. One of these, referred to as WlbB, is an N-acetyltransferase that converts UDP-2-acetamido-3-amino-2,3-dideoxy-D-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcNAc3NA) to UDP-2,3-diacetamido-2,3-dideoxy-D-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcNAc3NAcA). Here we report the three-dimensional structure of WlbB from Bordetella petrii. For this analysis, two ternary structures were determined to 1.43-Å resolution: one in which the protein was complexed with acetyl-CoA and UDP and the second in which the protein contained bound CoA and UDP-GlcNAc3NA. WlbB adopts a trimeric quaternary structure and belongs to the LβH superfamily of N-acyltransferases. Each subunit contains 27 β-strands, 23 of which form the canonical left-handed β-helix. There are only two hydrogen bonds that occur between the protein and the GlcNAc3NA moiety, one between Oδ1 of Asn 84 and the sugar C-3' amino group and the second between the backbone amide group of Arg 94 and the sugar C-5' carboxylate. The sugar C-3' amino group is ideally positioned in the active site to attack the si face of acetyl-CoA. Given that there are no protein side chains that can function as general bases within the GlcNAc3NA binding pocket, a reaction mechanism is proposed for WlbB whereby the sulfur of CoA ultimately functions as the proton acceptor required for catalysis.
PMCID: PMC2879449  PMID: 20433200
24.  The Tertiary Origin of the Allosteric Activation of E. coli Glucosamine-6-Phosphate Deaminase Studied by Sol-Gel Nanoencapsulation of Its T Conformer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96536.
The role of tertiary conformational changes associated to ligand binding was explored using the allosteric enzyme glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P) deaminase from Escherichia coli (EcGNPDA) as an experimental model. This is an enzyme of amino sugar catabolism that deaminates GlcN6P, giving fructose 6-phosphate and ammonia, and is allosterically activated by N-acetylglucosamine 6-phosphate (GlcNAc6P). We resorted to the nanoencapsulation of this enzyme in wet silica sol-gels for studying the role of intrasubunit local mobility in its allosteric activation under the suppression of quaternary transition. The gel-trapped enzyme lost its characteristic homotropic cooperativity while keeping its catalytic properties and the allosteric activation by GlcNAc6P. The nanoencapsulation keeps the enzyme in the T quaternary conformation, making possible the study of its allosteric activation under a condition that is not possible to attain in a soluble phase. The involved local transition was slowed down by nanoencapsulation, thus easing the fluorometric analysis of its relaxation kinetics, which revealed an induced-fit mechanism. The absence of cooperativity produced allosterically activated transitory states displaying velocity against substrate concentration curves with apparent negative cooperativity, due to the simultaneous presence of subunits with different substrate affinities. Reaction kinetics experiments performed at different tertiary conformational relaxation times also reveal the sequential nature of the allosteric activation. We assumed as a minimal model the existence of two tertiary states, t and r, of low and high affinity, respectively, for the substrate and the activator. By fitting the velocity-substrate curves as a linear combination of two hyperbolic functions with Kt and Kr as KM values, we obtained comparable values to those reported for the quaternary conformers in solution fitted to MWC model. These results are discussed in the background of the known crystallographic structures of T and R EcGNPDA conformers. These results are consistent with the postulates of the Tertiary Two-States (TTS) model.
PMCID: PMC4008608  PMID: 24787711
25.  Probing the Role of Cysteine Residues in Glucosamine-1-Phosphate Acetyltransferase Activity of the Bifunctional GlmU Protein from Escherichia coli: Site-Directed Mutagenesis and Characterization of the Mutant Enzymes 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(18):4799-4803.
The glucosamine-1-phosphate acetyltransferase activity but not the uridyltransferase activity of the bifunctional GlmU enzyme from Escherichia coli was lost when GlmU was stored in the absence of β-mercaptoethanol or incubated with thiol-specific reagents. The enzyme was protected from inactivation in the presence of its substrate acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA), suggesting the presence of an essential cysteine residue in or near the active site of the acetyltransferase domain. To ascertain the role of cysteines in the structure and function of the enzyme, site-directed mutagenesis was performed to change each of the four cysteines to alanine, and plasmids were constructed for high-level overproduction and one-step purification of histidine-tagged proteins. Whereas the kinetic parameters of the bifunctional enzyme appeared unaffected by the C296A and C385A mutations, 1,350- and 8-fold decreases of acetyltransferase activity resulted from the C307A and C324A mutations, respectively. The Km values for acetyl-CoA and GlcN-1-P of mutant proteins were not modified, suggesting that none of the cysteines was involved in substrate binding. The uridyltransferase activities of wild-type and mutant GlmU proteins were similar. From these studies, the two cysteines Cys307 and Cys324 appeared important for acetyltransferase activity and seemed to be located in or near the active site.
PMCID: PMC107502  PMID: 9733680

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