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1.  Molecular mechanism of elongation factor 1A inhibition by a Legionella pneumophila glycosyltransferase 
The Biochemical journal  2010;426(3):281-292.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a lethal colonization of alveolar macrophages with the Gram-negative bacterium Legionella pneumophila. LpGT (L. pneumophila glucosyltransferase; also known as Lgt1) has recently been identified as a virulence factor, shutting down protein synthesis in the human cell by specific glucosylation of EF1A (elongation factor 1A), using an unknown mode of substrate recognition and a retaining mechanism for glycosyl transfer. We have determined the crystal structure of LpGT in complex with substrates, revealing a GT-A fold with two unusual protruding domains. Through structure-guided mutagenesis of LpGT, several residues essential for binding of the UDP-glucose-donor and EF1A-acceptor substrates were identified, which also affected L. pneumophila virulence as demonstrated by microinjection studies. Together, these results suggested that a positively charged EF1A loop binds to a negatively charged conserved groove on the LpGT structure, and that two asparagine residues are essential for catalysis. Furthermore, we showed that two further L. pneumophila glycosyltransferases possessed the conserved UDP-glucose-binding sites and EF1A-binding grooves, and are, like LpGT, translocated into the macrophage through the Icm/Dot (intracellular multiplication/defect in organelle trafficking) system.
doi:10.1042/BJ20091351
PMCID: PMC3518269  PMID: 20030628
elongation factor 1A (EF1A); glucosyl transferase; Legionella pneumophila; microinjection; site-directed mutagenesis; protein structure
2.  O-GlcNAcylation of TAB1 modulates TAK1-mediated cytokine release 
The EMBO Journal  2012;31(6):1394-1404.
O-GlcNAcylation of TAB1 modulates TAK1-mediated cytokine release
The protein kinase TAK1 plays an important role in pro-inflammatory cytokine signalling. Interleukin-1- and osmotic stress-induced O-GlcNAcylation of its regulatory subunit TAB1 is required for full TAK1 activation to induce downstream cytokine production, linking this protein modification to innate immunity signalling.
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is a key serine/threonine protein kinase that mediates signals transduced by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as transforming growth factor-β, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1 (IL-1) and wnt family ligands. TAK1 is found in complex with binding partners TAB1–3, phosphorylation and ubiquitination of which has been found to regulate TAK1 activity. In this study, we show that TAB1 is modified with N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) on a single site, Ser395. With the help of a novel O-GlcNAc site-specific antibody, we demonstrate that O-GlcNAcylation of TAB1 is induced by IL-1 and osmotic stress, known inducers of the TAK1 signalling cascade. By reintroducing wild-type or an O-GlcNAc-deficient mutant TAB1 (S395A) into Tab1−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we determined that O-GlcNAcylation of TAB1 is required for full TAK1 activation upon stimulation with IL-1/osmotic stress, for downstream activation of nuclear factor κB and finally production of IL-6 and TNFα. This is one of the first examples of a single O-GlcNAc site on a signalling protein modulating a key innate immunity signalling pathway.
doi:10.1038/emboj.2012.8
PMCID: PMC3321193  PMID: 22307082
cytokine; glycobiology; innate immunity; O-GlcNAc; signal transduction
3.  Substrate and product analogues as human O-GlcNAc transferase inhibitors 
Amino Acids  2010;40(3):781-792.
Protein glycosylation on serine/threonine residues with N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) is a dynamic, inducible and abundant post-translational modification. It is thought to regulate many cellular processes and there are examples of interplay between O-GlcNAc and protein phosphorylation. In metazoa, a single, highly conserved and essential gene encodes the O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) that transfers GlcNAc onto substrate proteins using UDP–GlcNAc as the sugar donor. Specific inhibitors of human OGT would be useful tools to probe the role of this post-translational modification in regulating processes in the living cell. Here, we describe the synthesis of novel UDP–GlcNAc/UDP analogues and evaluate their inhibitory properties and structural binding modes in vitro alongside alloxan, a previously reported weak OGT inhibitor. While the novel analogues are not active on living cells, they inhibit the enzyme in the micromolar range and together with the structural data provide useful templates for further optimisation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00726-010-0688-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00726-010-0688-y
PMCID: PMC3040809  PMID: 20640461
O-GlcNAc; Post-translational modification; Inhibitor; Signalling; Crystal structure
4.  Evaluation of Antiseizure Activity of Essential Oil from Roots of Angelica archangelica Linn. in Mice 
In the present study, the effect of essential oil of the root of Angelica archangelica Linn. was evaluated against electrically and chemically induced seizures. The seizures were induced in mice by maximal electroshock and pentylenetetrazol. The effect of essential oil of the root of Angelica archangelica on seizures was compared with standard anticonvulsant agents, phenytoin and diazepam. The essential oil of the root of Angelica archangelica suppressed duration of tonic convulsions and showed recovery in maximal electroshock induced seizures while it delayed time of onset of clonic convulsions and showed mortality protection in pentylenetetrazol induced seizures. The essential oil of the root of Angelica archangelica also produced motor impairment at the antiseizure doses. The study indicated that the essential oil exhibited antiseizure effect. The antiseizure effect may be attributed to the presence of terpenes in the essential oil.
doi:10.4103/0250-474X.70487
PMCID: PMC3003174  PMID: 21188050
Angelica archangelica (Umbelliferae); convulsions; pentylenetetrazol; medicinal plants; maximal electroshock
5.  Structural insights into mechanism and specificity of O-GlcNAc transferase 
The EMBO Journal  2008;27(20):2780-2788.
Post-translational modification of protein serines/threonines with N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) is dynamic, inducible and abundant, regulating many cellular processes by interfering with protein phosphorylation. O-GlcNAcylation is regulated by O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) and O-GlcNAcase, both encoded by single, essential, genes in metazoan genomes. It is not understood how OGT recognises its sugar nucleotide donor and performs O-GlcNAc transfer onto proteins/peptides, and how the enzyme recognises specific cellular protein substrates. Here, we show, by X-ray crystallography and mutagenesis, that OGT adopts the (metal-independent) GT-B fold and binds a UDP-GlcNAc analogue at the bottom of a highly conserved putative peptide-binding groove, covered by a mobile loop. Strikingly, the tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs) tightly interact with the active site to form a continuous 120 Å putative interaction surface, whereas the previously predicted phosphatidylinositide-binding site locates to the opposite end of the catalytic domain. On the basis of the structure, we identify truncation/point mutants of the TPRs that have differential effects on activity towards proteins/peptides, giving first insights into how OGT may recognise its substrates.
doi:10.1038/emboj.2008.186
PMCID: PMC2556091  PMID: 18818698
glycobiology; O-GlcNAc; protein structure; signal transduction
6.  Chemical Dissection of the Link between Streptozotocin, O-GlcNAc, and Pancreatic Cell Death 
Chemistry & Biology  2008;15(8):799-807.
Summary
Streptozotocin is a natural product that selectively kills insulin-secreting β cells, and is widely used to generate mouse models of diabetes or treat pancreatic tumors. Several studies suggest that streptozotocin toxicity stems from its N-nitrosourea moiety releasing nitric oxide and possessing DNA alkylating activity. However, it has also been proposed that streptozotocin induces apoptosis by inhibiting O-GlcNAcase, an enzyme that, together with O-GlcNAc transferase, is important for dynamic intracellular protein O-glycosylation. We have used galacto-streptozotocin to chemically dissect the link between O-GlcNAcase inhibition and apoptosis. Using X-ray crystallography, enzymology, and cell biological studies on an insulinoma cell line, we show that, whereas streptozotocin competitively inhibits O-GlcNAcase and induces apoptosis, its galacto-configured derivative no longer inhibits O-GlcNAcase, yet still induces apoptosis. This supports a general chemical poison mode of action for streptozotocin, suggesting the need for using more specific inhibitors to study protein O-GlcNAcylation.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.06.010
PMCID: PMC2568864  PMID: 18721751
CHEMBIO; SIGNALING

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