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author:("Gu, xiaoyan")
1.  Biosynthesis of UDP-glucuronic acid and UDP-galacturonic acid in Bacillus cereus subsp. cytotoxis NVH 391–98 
The FEBS journal  2011;279(1):100-112.
The food borne pathogen, Bacillus cereus, produces uronic acid-containing glycans that are secreted in a shielding biofilm environment, and certain alkaliphilic Bacillus deposit uronate-glycan polymers in the cell wall when adapting to alkaline environments. The source of these acidic sugars is unknown, and here we have described the functional identification of an operon in B. cerues subsp. cytotoxis NVH 391–98 that comprises genes involved in the synthesis of UDP-uronic acids in Bacillus spp. Within the operon, a UDP-glucose 6-dehydrognease (UGlcDH) converts UDP-glucose in the presence of NAD+ to UDP-glucuronic acid and NADH, and a UDP-GlcA 4-epimerase (UGlcAE) converts UDP-glucuronic acid to UDP-galacturonic acid. Interestingly, in vitro both enzymes can utilize the TDP-sugar forms as well, albeit at lower catalytic efficiency. Unlike most of the very few bacterial 4-epimerases that have been characterized, which are promiscuous, the B. cereus UGlcAE enzyme is very specific and cannot use UDP-Glc, UDP-GlcNAc, UDP-GlcNAcA or UDP-Xyl as substrates. Size exclusion chromatography suggests that UGlcAE is active as a monomer, unlike the dimeric form of plant enzymes; the Bacillus UGlcDH is also found as a monomer. Phylogenic analysis further suggests that the Bacillus UGlcAE may have evolved separately from other bacterial and plant epimerases. Our results provide insight into the formation and function of uronic acid-containing glycans in the lifecycle of B. cereus and related species containing homologous operons as well as the basis to determine the importance of these acidic glycans. We also discuss the ability to target UGlcAE as a drug candidate.
PMCID: PMC3240692  PMID: 22023070
Bacillus; hexuronic acid; UDP-glucuronic acid; UDP-galacturonic acid; biofilm; alkalinity
2.  Biosynthesis of UDP-xylose and UDP-arabinose in Sinorhizobium meliloti 1021: first characterization of a bacterial UDP-xylose synthase, and UDP-xylose 4-epimerase 
Microbiology  2011;157(Pt 1):260-269.
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil bacterium that fixes nitrogen after being established inside nodules that can form on the roots of several legumes, including Medicago truncatula. A mutation in an S. meliloti gene (lpsB) required for lipopolysaccharide synthesis has been reported to result in defective nodulation and an increase in the synthesis of a xylose-containing glycan. Glycans containing xylose as well as arabinose are also formed by other rhizobial species, but little is known about their structures and the biosynthetic pathways leading to their formation. To gain insight into the biosynthesis of these glycans and their biological roles, we report the identification of an operon in S. meliloti 1021 that contains two genes encoding activities not previously described in bacteria. One gene encodes a UDP-xylose synthase (Uxs) that converts UDP-glucuronic acid to UDP-xylose, and the second encodes a UDP-xylose 4-epimerase (Uxe) that interconverts UDP-xylose and UDP-arabinose. Similar genes were also identified in other rhizobial species, including Rhizobium leguminosarum, suggesting that they have important roles in the life cycle of this agronomically important class of bacteria. Functional studies established that recombinant SmUxs1 is likely to be active as a dimer and is inhibited by NADH and UDP-arabinose. SmUxe is inhibited by UDP-galactose, even though this nucleotide sugar is not a substrate for the 4-epimerase. Unambiguous evidence for the conversions of UDP-glucuronic acid to UDP-α-d-xylose and then to UDP-β-l-arabinose (UDP-arabinopyranose) was obtained using real-time 1H-NMR spectroscopy. Our results provide new information about the ability of rhizobia to form UDP-xylose and UDP-arabinose, which are then used for the synthesis of xylose- and arabinose-containing glycans.
PMCID: PMC3068629  PMID: 20847005
3.  Evolution of Plant Nucleotide-Sugar Interconversion Enzymes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27995.
Nucleotide-diphospho-sugars (NDP-sugars) are the building blocks of diverse polysaccharides and glycoconjugates in all organisms. In plants, 11 families of NDP-sugar interconversion enzymes (NSEs) have been identified, each of which interconverts one NDP-sugar to another. While the functions of these enzyme families have been characterized in various plants, very little is known about their evolution and origin. Our phylogenetic analyses indicate that all the 11 plant NSE families are distantly related and most of them originated from different progenitor genes, which have already diverged in ancient prokaryotes. For instance, all NSE families are found in the lower land plant mosses and most of them are also found in aquatic algae, implicating that they have already evolved to be capable of synthesizing all the 11 different NDP-sugars. Particularly interesting is that the evolution of RHM (UDP-L-rhamnose synthase) manifests the fusion of genes of three enzymatic activities in early eukaryotes in a rather intriguing manner. The plant NRS/ER (nucleotide-rhamnose synthase/epimerase-reductase), on the other hand, evolved much later from the ancient plant RHMs through losing the N-terminal domain. Based on these findings, an evolutionary model is proposed to explain the origin and evolution of different NSE families. For instance, the UGlcAE (UDP-D-glucuronic acid 4-epimerase) family is suggested to have evolved from some chlamydial bacteria. Our data also show considerably higher sequence diversity among NSE-like genes in modern prokaryotes, consistent with the higher sugar diversity found in prokaryotes. All the NSE families are widely found in plants and algae containing carbohydrate-rich cell walls, while sporadically found in animals, fungi and other eukaryotes, which do not have or have cell walls with distinct compositions. Results of this study were shown to be highly useful for identifying unknown genes for further experimental characterization to determine their functions in the synthesis of diverse glycosylated molecules.
PMCID: PMC3220709  PMID: 22125650
4.  N-Linked Glycosylation Is Required for C1 Inhibitor-Mediated Protection from Endotoxin Shock in Mice  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(4):1946-1955.
C1 inhibitor (C1INH) prevents endotoxin shock in mice via a direct interaction with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This interaction requires the heavily glycosylated amino-terminal domain of C1INH. C1INH in which N-linked carbohydrate was removed by using N-glycosidase F was markedly less effective in protecting mice from LPS-induced lethal septic shock. N-deglycosylated C1INH also failed to suppress fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-LPS binding to and LPS-induced tumor necrosis factor alpha mRNA expression by the murine macrophage-like cell line, RAW 264.7, and cells in human whole blood. In an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, the N-deglycosylated C1INH bound to LPS very poorly. In addition, C1INH was shown to bind to diphosphoryl lipid A (dLPA) but only weakly to monophosphoryl lipid A (mLPA). As with intact LPS, binding of N-deglycosylated C1INH to dLPA and mLPA was diminished in comparison with the native protein. Removal of O-linked carbohydrate had no effect on any of these activities. Neither detoxified LPS, dLPA, nor mLPA had any effect on the rate or extent of C1INH complex formation with C1s or on cleavage of the reactive center loop by trypsin. These data demonstrate that N-linked glycosylation of C1INH is essential to mediate its interaction with the LPA moiety of LPS and to protect mice from endotoxin shock.
PMCID: PMC375168  PMID: 15039314

Results 1-4 (4)