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J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 19;287(43):36518-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.402685. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Engineering of sialylated mucin-type O-glycosylation in plants.

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  • 1Department of Applied Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, 1190 Vienna Austria.


Proper N- and O-glycosylation of recombinant proteins is important for their biological function. Although the N-glycan processing pathway of different expression hosts has been successfully modified in the past, comparatively little attention has been paid to the generation of customized O-linked glycans. Plants are attractive hosts for engineering of O-glycosylation steps, as they contain no endogenous glycosyltransferases that perform mammalian-type Ser/Thr glycosylation and could interfere with the production of defined O-glycans. Here, we produced mucin-type O-GalNAc and core 1 O-linked glycan structures on recombinant human erythropoietin fused to an IgG heavy chain fragment (EPO-Fc) by transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Furthermore, for the generation of sialylated core 1 structures constructs encoding human polypeptide:N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2, Drosophila melanogaster core 1 β1,3-galactosyltransferase, human α2,3-sialyltransferase, and Mus musculus α2,6-sialyltransferase were transiently co-expressed in N. benthamiana together with EPO-Fc and the machinery for sialylation of N-glycans. The formation of significant amounts of mono- and disialylated O-linked glycans was confirmed by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. Analysis of the three EPO glycopeptides carrying N-glycans revealed the presence of biantennary structures with terminal sialic acid residues. Our data demonstrate that N. benthamiana plants are amenable to engineering of the O-glycosylation pathway and can produce well defined human-type O- and N-linked glycans on recombinant therapeutics.

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