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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jan 19;276(3):2037-46. Epub 2000 Oct 6.

Topological organization of the hyaluronan synthase from Streptococcus pyogenes.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73190, USA.


Since we first reported (DeAngelis, P. L., Papaconstantinou, J., and Weigel, P. H. (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268, 19181-19184) the cloning of the hyaluronan (HA) synthase from Streptococcus pyogenes (spHAS), numerous membrane-bound HA synthases have been discovered in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The HASs are unique among enzymes studied to date because they mediate 6-7 discrete functions in order to assemble a polysaccharide containing hetero-disaccharide units and simultaneously effect translocation of the growing HA chain through the plasma membrane. To understand how the relatively small spHAS performs these various functions, we investigated the topological organization of the protein utilizing fusion analysis with two reporter enzymes, alkaline phosphatase and beta-galactosidase, as well as several other approaches. From these studies, we conclude that the NH2 terminus and the COOH terminus, as well as the major portion of a large central domain are localized intracellularly. The first two predicted membrane domains were confirmed to be transmembrane domains and give rise to a very small extracellular loop that is inaccessible to proteases. Several regions of the large internal central domain appear to be associated with, but do not traverse, the membrane. Following the central domain, there are two additional transmembrane domains connected by a second small extracellular loop that also is inaccessible to proteases. The COOH-terminal approximately 25% of spHAS also contains a membrane domain that does not traverse the membrane and may contain extensive re-entrant loops or amphipathic helices. Numerous membrane associations of this latter COOH-terminal region and the central domain may be required to create a pore-like structure through which a growing HA chain can be extruded to the cell exterior. Based on the high degree of similarity among Class I HAS family members, these enzymes may have a similar topological organization for their spHAS-related domains.

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