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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.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
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.  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
10.  Hexosamines, insulin resistance and the complications of diabetes: current status. 
The hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP) is a relatively minor branch of glycolysis. Fructose-6-phosphate is converted to glucosamine-6-phosphate, catalyzed by the first and rate-limiting enzyme, glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFAT). The major end-product is UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc). Along with other aminosugars generated by HBP, it provides essential building blocks for glycosyl side chains, of proteins and lipids. UDP-GlcNAc regulates flux through HBP by regulating GFAT activity and is the obligatory substrate of O-GlcNAc transferase. The latter is a cytosolic and nuclear enzyme, which catalyzes a reversible, post-translational protein modification, transferring N-acetylglucosamine in O-linkage (O-GlcNAc) to specific serine/threonine residues of proteins. The metabolic effects of increased flux through HBP are thought to be mediated by increasing O-GlcNAcylation. Several investigators proposed that HBP functions as a cellular nutrient sensor and plays a role in the development of insulin resistance and the vascular complications of diabetes. Increased flux through HBP is required and sufficient for some of the metabolic effects of sustained , increased glucose flux, which promotes the complications of diabetes, e.g. diminished expression of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca 2+ - ATP-ase in cardiomyocytes and induction of TGF-β and plasminogen activator inhibitor –1 in vascular smooth muscle cells, mesangial cells and aortic endothelial cells. The mechanism was consistent with enhanced O-GlcNAcylation of certain transcription factors. The role of HBP in the development of insulin resistance has been controversial. There are numerous papers showing a correlation between increased flux through HBP and insulin resistance, however the causal relationship has not been established. More recent experiments in mice overexpressing GFAT in muscle and adipose tissue or exclusively in fat cells suggest that the former develop in vivo insulin resistance via cross-talk between fat cells and muscle. While the relationship between HBP and insulin resistance may be quite complex, it clearly deserves further study in concert with its role in the complications of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC1343508  PMID: 16339923
11.  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
12.  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
13.  The N-Acetyl-d-Glucosamine Kinase of Escherichia coli and Its Role in Murein Recycling 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(21):7273-7279.
N-Acetyl-d-glucosamine (GlcNAc) is a major component of bacterial cell wall murein and the lipopolysaccharide of the outer membrane. During growth, over 60% of the murein of the side wall is degraded, and the major products, GlcNAc-anhydro-N-acetylmuramyl peptides, are efficiently imported into the cytoplasm and cleaved to release GlcNAc, anhydro-N-acetylmuramic acid, murein tripeptide (l-Ala-d-Glu-meso-diaminopimelic acid), and d-alanine. Like murein tripeptide, GlcNAc is readily recycled, and this process was thought to involve phosphorylation, since GlcNAc-6-phosphate (GlcNAc-6-P) is efficiently used to synthesize murein or lipopolysaccharide or can be metabolized by glycolysis. Since the gene for GlcNAc kinase had not been identified, in this work we purified GlcNAc kinase (NagK) from Escherichia coli cell extracts and identified the gene by determining the N-terminal sequence of the purified kinase. A nagK deletion mutant lacked phosphorylated GlcNAc in its cytoplasm, and the cell extract of the mutant did not phosphorylate GlcNAc, indicating that NagK is the only GlcNAc kinase expressed in E. coli. Unexpectedly, GlcNAc did not accumulate in a nagK nagEBACD mutant, though both GlcNAc and GlcNAc-6-P accumulate in the nagEBACD mutant, suggesting the existence of an alternative pathway (presumably repressed by GlcNAc-6-P) that reutilizes GlcNAc without the involvement of NagK.
PMCID: PMC523203  PMID: 15489439
14.  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
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.  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
17.  Defect in biosynthesis of the linkage unit between peptidoglycan and teichoic acid in a bacteriophage-resistant mutant of Staphylococcus aureus. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;134(2):412-417.
The biosynthesis of the linkage region between peptidoglycan and the ribitol teichoic acid was investigated in the bacteriophage-resistant, teichoic acid-less mutant Staphylococcus aureus 52A5 (Chatterjee et al., J. Bacteriol. 100:846--853, 1969). Membrane preparations of this strain were found to be incapable of forming the first intermediate of the biosynthetic pathway, namely, the transfer of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) from UDP-GlcNAc to the acceptor molecule, which presumbably is undecaprenol phosphate (R. Bracha and L. Glaser, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 72:1091--1098, 1976). The addition of heat-inactivated membrane preparations of S. aureus 52A2 (which normally has ribitol teichoic acid) that had been preincubated with UDP-GlcNAc to membranes of strain 52A5 enabled the synthesis of teichoic acid. These data suggest that the mutational defect in the teichoic acid-less organism is in the synthesis of the first compound of the linkage unit, and this is apparently the reason for its absence in the cell walls.
PMCID: PMC222267  PMID: 149106
18.  Functional Analysis of the N-Acetylglucosamine Metabolic Genes of Streptomyces coelicolor and Role in Control of Development and Antibiotic Production 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(5):1136-1144.
N-Acetylglucosamine, the monomer of chitin, is a favored carbon and nitrogen source for streptomycetes. Its intracellular catabolism requires the combined actions of the N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcNAc-6P) deacetylase NagA and the glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6P) deaminase/isomerase NagB. GlcNAc acts as a signaling molecule in the DasR-mediated nutrient sensing system, activating development and antibiotic production under poor growth conditions (famine) and blocking these processes under rich conditions (feast). In order to understand how a single nutrient can deliver opposite information according to the nutritional context, we carried out a mutational analysis of the nag metabolic genes nagA, nagB, and nagK. Here we show that the nag genes are part of the DasR regulon in Streptomyces coelicolor, which explains their transcriptional induction by GlcNAc. Most likely as the result of the intracellular accumulation of GlcN-6P, nagB deletion mutants fail to grow in the presence of GlcNAc. This toxicity can be alleviated by the additional deletion of nagA. We recently showed that in S. coelicolor, GlcNAc is internalized as GlcNAc-6P via the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). Considering the relevance of GlcNAc for the control of antibiotic production, improved insight into GlcNAc metabolism in Streptomyces may provide new leads toward biotechnological applications.
PMCID: PMC3294797  PMID: 22194457
19.  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
20.  Feedback Inhibition of l-Glutamine d-Fructose 6-Phosphate Amidotransferase by Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine in Neurospora crassa 
Journal of Bacteriology  1970;103(3):588-594.
The enzyme, l-glutamine d-fructose 6-phosphate amidotransferase (EC of Neurospora crassa, which catalyzes the formation of glucosamine 6-phosphate was shown to be subject to feedback inhibition by uridine diphosphate N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc). The conclusion is based on the following observations. UDP-GlcNAc, the direct precursor of chitin, did not accumulate in the cell even when its utilization for the synthesis of cell wall chitin was interrupted by the antibiotic polyoxin D, a competitive inhibitor of the chitin synthetase (EC Furthermore, the cellular level of UDP-GlcNAc rose in a short period of time when the amidotransferase was bypassed in vivo by the addition of glucosamine to the growing medium of the fungus. The amidotransferase was purified from N. crassa approximately 85-fold. Kinetic studies showed that UDP-GlcNAc was a potent and specific inhibitor of the amidotransferase, and that it did not alter the Michaelis constant for either l-glutamine or d-fructose 6-phosphate, suggesting that the inhibitor binds at a site on the enzyme distinct from the active site.
PMCID: PMC248130  PMID: 5474877
21.  Identification of M. tuberculosis Rv3441c and M. smegmatis MSMEG_1556 and Essentiality of M. smegmatis MSMEG_1556 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42769.
The normal growth of mycobacteria attributes to the integrity of cell wall core which consists of peptidoglycan (PG), arabinogalactan (AG) and mycolic acids. N-acetyl glucosamine (GlcNAc) is an essential component in both PG and AG of mycobacterial cell wall. The biosynthetic pathway for UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), as a sugar donor of GlcNAc, is different in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The conversion of glucosamine-6-phosphate to glucosamine-1-phosphate, which is catalyzed by phosphoglucosamine mutase (GlmM), is unique to prokaryotes. Bioinformatic analysis showed that Msm MSMEG_1556 and Mtb Rv3441c are homologous to Ec GlmM. In this study, soluble Msm MSMEG_1556 protein and Mtb Rv3441c protein were expressed in E. coli BL21(DE3) and their phosphoglucosamine mutase activity were detected. In order to further investigate the essentiality of MSMEG_1556 for the growth of M. smegmatis, we generated a conditional MSMEG_1556 knockout mutant, which harbored thermo-sensitive rescue plasmid carrying Mtb Rv3441c. As the rescue plasmid was unable to complement MSMEG_1556 deficiency at 42°C, MSMEG_1556 knockout mutant did not grow. The dramatic morphological changes of MSMEG_1556 knockout mutant after temperature shift from 30°C to 42°C have been observed by scanning electron microscope. These results demonstrated that MSMEG_1556 is essential for growth of M. smegmatis. This study provided evidence that GlmM enzyme could be as a potential target for developing anti-tuberculosis drugs.
PMCID: PMC3414508  PMID: 22905172
22.  Structural Analysis of WbpE from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1: A Nucleotide Sugar Aminotransferase Involved in O-antigen Assembly† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(33):7227-7237.
In recent years, the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa has emerged as a major source of hospital-acquired infections. Effective treatment has proven increasingly difficult due to the spread of multidrug resistant strains and thus requires a deeper understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of pathogenicity. The central carbohydrate of the P. aeruginosa PAO1 (O5) B-band O-antigen, ManNAc(3NAc)A, has been shown to be critical for virulence and is produced in a stepwise manner by five enzymes in the Wbp pathway (WbpA, WbpB, WbpE, WbpD and WbpI). Herein, we present the crystal structure of the aminotransferase WbpE from P. aeruginosa PAO1 in complex with the cofactor pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP) and product UDP-GlcNAc(3NH2)A as the external aldimine at 1.9 Å resolution. We also report the structures of WbpE in complex with PMP alone as well as the PLP internal aldimine, and show that the dimeric structure of WbpE observed in the crystal structure is confirmed by analytical ultracentrifugation. Analysis of these structures reveals that the active site of the enzyme is composed of residues from both subunits. In particular, we show that a key residue (Arg229), which has previously been implicated in direct interactions with the carboxylate moiety of α-ketoglutarate, is also uniquely positioned to bestow specificity for the 6″ carboxyl group of GlcNAc(3NH2)A through a salt bridge. This finding is intriguing, because while an analogous basic residue is present in WbpE homologs that do not process C6″-carboxyl-modified saccharides, recent structural studies reveal that this side chain is retracted to accommodate a neutral C-6″ carbon. This work represents the first structural analysis of a nucleotide sugar aminotransferase with a bound product modified at the C2″, C3″, and C6″ positions and provides insight into a novel target for treatment of P. aeruginosa infection.
PMCID: PMC2923267  PMID: 20604544
23.  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
24.  Core requirements for glmS ribozyme self-cleavage reveal a putative pseudoknot structure 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(3):968-975.
The glmS ribozyme is a self-cleaving RNA catalyst that resides in the 5′-untranslated region of glmS mRNA in certain bacteria. The ribozyme is specifically activated by glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P), the metabolic product of the GlmS protein, and is thus proposed to provide a feedback mechanism of riboswitch regulation. Both phylogenetic and biochemical analyses of the glmS ribozyme have established a highly conserved core sequence and secondary structure required for GlcN6P-dependent self-cleavage. However, the high degree of nucleotide conservation offers few clues regarding the higher-order structural organization of the catalytic core. To further investigate core ribozyme structure, minimal ‘consensus-type’ glmS ribozymes that retain GlcN6P-dependent activity were produced. Mutational analyses of consensus-type glmS ribozymes support a model for core ribozyme folding through a pseudoknot structure formed by the interaction of two highly conserved sequence segments. Moreover, GlcN6P-dependent function is demonstrated for bimolecular constructs in which substrate interaction with the ribozyme is minimally comprised of sequence representing that involved in putative pseudoknot formation. These studies suggest that the glmS ribozyme adopts an intricate multi-strand catalytic core through the formation of a pseudoknot structure, and provide a refined model for further considering GlcN6P interaction and GlcN6P-dependent ribozyme function.
PMCID: PMC1361622  PMID: 16464827
25.  Effect of Phosphoglucosamine Mutase on Biofilm Formation and Antimicrobial Susceptibilities in M. smegmatis glmM Gene Knockdown Strain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61589.
UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) is a direct glycosyl donor of linker unit (L-Rhamnose-D-GlcNAc) and an essential precursor of peptidoglycan in mycobacteria. Phosphoglucosamine mutase (GlmM) is involved in the formation of glucosamine-1-phosphate from glucosamine-6-phosphate, the second step in UDP-GlcNAc biosynthetic pathway. We have demonstrated that GlmM protein is essential for the growth of M. smegmatis. To facilitate the analysis of the GlmM protein function in mycobacteria, a tetracycline inducible M. smegmatis glmM gene knockdown strain was constructed by using an antisense RNA technology. After induction with 20 ng/ml tetracycline, the expression of GlmM protein in glmM gene knockdown strain was significantly decreased, resulting in a decline of cell growth. The morphological changes of glmM gene knockdown strain induced with 20 ng/ml tetracycline have been observed by scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope. Furthermore, insufficient GlmM protein reduced the biofilm formation and increased the sensitivity to isoniazid and ethambutol in M. smegmatis, indicating that GlmM protein had effect on the biofilm formation and the senstivity to some anti-tuberculosis drugs targeting the cell wall. These results provide a new insight on GlmM functions in mycobacteria, suggesting that GlmM could be a potential target for development of new anti-tuberculosis drug.
PMCID: PMC3622608  PMID: 23593488

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